House environmental committee votes to end summer gas requirement

Pennsylvania's House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee passed legislation on April 9 that would end the required use of "summer gas" in seven counties in western Pennsylvania.

The legislation - S.B. 1037, penned by Sen. Elder Vogel, with support from five Democrats and 12 Republicans - would require state environmental regulators to repeal the mandated use of low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) gasoline between May 1 to Sept. 15.

Mandated use of the summer gas blend has been in effect since 1999, when the Department of Environmental Protection adopted the fuel standard to comply with federal air pollution control measures, which allow for an RVP maximum of between 9.0 PSI and 7.8 PSI for summer-grade fuel.

The new bill will affect seven counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington.

"These seven counties, as well as a handful of counties in Maine, are the only areas of the country where the summer gas mandate remains in effect," Sen. Ron Miller, the chairman of the committee, said. "Florida and North Carolina recently passed repeals that relieve this burden on their residents."

Though the mandate has been in effect for nearly two decades, introduction of additives like ethanol to summer blends have resulted in formulas with a higher RVP value, and the price per gallon has risen 10-15 cents on average in western Pennsylvania, compared to neighboring counties in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

"I was pleased to support the passage of the bill," Rep. Jeff Pyle said. "The EPA, a non-elective body of political appointees, seems more concerned about protecting their unaccountable power at the expense of southwestern Pennsylvania residents having to buy special, and more expensive, gasoline. It just isn't fair and the situation must change."