The Environmental Resources and Energy Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a bill that would eliminate the requirement for summer blend gasoline in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler,
Fayette, Greene and Washington Counties.
The legislation, SB 1037, sponsored by Senators Elder Vogel and Timothy Solobay,
passed the Senate 46-0 on March 19.
In a memo accompanying the legislation the sponsors write that, in 1998, the state Department of Environmental Protection adopted a 7.8psi RVP (Reid Vapor Pressure) fuel standard for southwestern Pennsylvania to address federal air pollution control measures.
"Since that time, ethanol became mandated by the federal government, increasing the RVP value of fuel. This resulted in an exclusive “boutique” fuel mandate for southwestern Pennsylvania."
The sponsors say that the law has resulted in "gas prices averaging 10 to 15 cents higher in western Pennsylvania than in neighboring counties and also across the border in Ohio."
"In Pennsylvania, this boutique fuel is only required for the Pittsburgh region, and demand for the product is low. This equates to a hidden tax drivers must pay in southwestern Pennsylvania that is not required anywhere else," they argue.
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The Pittsburgh-based Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) opposes the measure.
“Southwestern Pennsylvania and much of the northeastern United States struggle to meet federal health-based standards for ozone for a number of years,” said its Legal Director Joe Osborne. “The summer gas requirement is one of the most common sense and cost-effective ways to reduce ozone emissions in the area.”
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