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Western PA No Longer Requires Gasoline Switch In Summer Months

Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill last week that eliminates requirements for what’s called “summer gas.”

Seven counties in Western Pennsylvania require that a different kind of gasoline be sold during the summer. It evaporates less readily, releasing less of the pollutants that contribute to smog.

The summer gas requirement started in 1999 because the region was struggling to meet federal air quality standards. Though air quality remains poor in the region, the new law eliminates the requirement to transition to a low Reid vapor pressure (RVP) gasoline. Low RVP gas evaporates less readily, releasing fewer pollutants into the air during the warmer months.  

But before consumers will see any changes at the pump, the state Department of Environmental Protection needs to propose different measures aimed at reducing the same pollutants, and the Environmental Protection Agency needs to sign off on those. That process can take more than a year to complete.

Joe Osborne, legal director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution, said, “Chances are whatever emission reduction DEP identifies will be less cost effective than the program that’s been eliminated and those costs will likely ultimately be passed on to consumers.”

But groups like the Petroleum Retailers and Auto Repair Association and AAA say the new law will be good for consumers.

Theresa Podguski, Director of Legislative Affairs for AAA East Central, said the boutique fuels are more costly to produce because there is limited demand for them and she says there’s the potential for shortages.