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PHOENIX -- Arizona state lawmakers refused this week to force more than 250 gas stations in the Tucson area to install special equipment to recapture vapors.
The 7-2 vote by the House Environment Committee came after representatives of both the petroleum industry and service station owners said they should not be forced to spend upwards of $88,000 for equipment that may or may not make any real difference in air quality, according to a report by Capitol Media Services.
Wednesday's vote came over the objections of Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, who insisted that the cost was no more than $12,000. Farley said gas station owners would actually recoup that within months since they could re-condense the collected gasoline vapors and sell them to other motorists.
At the heart of the issue is the fact that when motorists fill up their gasoline tanks, the liquid fuel displaces gasoline vapors. In certain situations, especially mixed with heat and sunlight, they create ozone pollution. The equipment Farley wants would recover those vapors through special nozzles on gas pumps, the report said.
Gasoline stations in much of Maricopa County, Ariz. already are outfitted with the nozzles to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandates. But Pima County, which doesn’t have the same ozone pollution problem, is under no such orders.
Farley insisted that without those nozzles, it's only a matter of time. "We should install these systems now to keep our air from getting dirty in the first place," he said.
But Susie Stevens, lobbyist for Western States Petroleum Association, pointed out that the EPA now requires new cars and trucks to include their own vapor recovery systems.
Rep. Sam Crump, R-Anthem, said his own research shows him the EPA believes this type of pump nozzle will no longer be required in most communities after 2010. Crump said he sees no reason to force station owners to make that kind of investment now.
"I'm not convinced the 2010 date is real," responded Rep. Theresa Ulmer, D-Yuma. And Ulmer said she also does not believe that enough Arizonans will trade in their older vehicles to make a real difference in ozone pollution.