Gas stations may face air quality fines

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA In 2000, the /*California Air Resources Board*/ ordered stations to upgrade their vapor recovery systems. The systems capture gasoline vapors to prevent them from being released into the air. The upgrades, which will capture a higher percentage of the vapors, can cost $10,000 or more per pump. Though station owners have known about the CARB requirements for years, many stations have not yet installed the new systems, and with the ongoing credit crunch, are now unable to borrow the money to do so.

Gas industry representatives have asked the Board for more time. Jay McKeeman, who represents gas distributors, says, "They've been stonewalling. We first asked the Air Resources Board in August of 2007 for a delay. They flatly denied us."

State Senator Ron Calderon has sent letters to CARB asking for a one year delay in implementing the new regulations. In the meantime, he says he has been unable to determine exactly how much stations will be fined for failing to upgrade their equipment.

As it stands, the new regulations take effect April 1.

It is estimated that as many as a third of the state's gas stations have yet to install the new systems.

State lawmakers could attempt to pass legislation to force CARB to delay enforcement.


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