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CARB Proposes Temporary Waiver of Gasoline Standards in California

7 September 2005

Katrinawreckage
After the storm.

The California Air Resources Board is holding a public hearing tomorrow on an emergency amendment relaxing the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) standard for Phase 3 California Reformulated Gasoline (CaRFG3) through 31 October.

The amendment is intended to mitigate the impact of Hurricane Katrina on California gasoline supplies. If no action is taken, CARB staff estimates, California would experience about a 5%–10% reduction in production due to the inability to import finished gasoline and blendstocks.

The proposal is similar to the action taken by the EPA (earlier post).

Reid Vapor Pressure is one of the standards applied to gasoline quality, and is an indicator of the propensity of the fuel to evaporate, thereby emitting Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that contribute to ozone formation. RVP is measured in pounds per square inch (psi), and the lower the psi, the fewer evaporative emissions.

The ARB staff is proposing that the limit for the Reid Vapor Pressure of gasoline sold in California be raised from the current 6.9 to 7.0 psi level to 9.0 psi for the rest of the 2005 RVP control season, which ends in most of the state on October 31 and September 30, 2005 in a few air basins in the state.

This increase in allowable vapor pressure of gasoline would enable refiners to retain or add back higher volatility components into gasoline that would normally not be allowed until the wintertime non-RVP control season.

This would result in an increase in gasoline production of almost 10 percent, which is approximately equal to the expected loss in imports.

ARB staff estimates that the resulting increase in emissions from on-road motor vehicles could be as large as 50 tons per day (tpd) of VOCs. Emission increases would be limited to VOCs only with no expected increase in oxides of nitrogen or toxic air contaminants.

In consultation with the California Energy Commission, ARB believes that a temporary change in the Board’s gasoline regulation is in the interest of the public’s general welfare, and should be made on an emergency basis. To minimize the environmental impacts staff believes that the temporary changes should be limited to the RVP portion of the rules, thus preserving the public health protection of the regulations to the greatest degree possible.

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September 7, 2005 in Emissions, Fuels, Policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

I'm a bit surprised. There are two opposing forces at work here -- public health as a function of environmental quality, and public health as a function of the economy.

Maybe they'll compramise, with something like 8.0 psi until the deadline, allowing some increase in supply due to blending while also maintaining a tighter standard during the summer/fall months when it is necessary.

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