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dubone

Why does Charlotte not require gas pump vapor recovery?

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Charlotte's air is among the worst air in the country and the gas companies (including the lower-margin local retailers) have significant profits. Why is it that the vapor recovery systems that are common in other states are not required here? Those vapors are actually valuable when aggregated, especially with the current retail price for gas, so that helps to offset the costs of the systems. Even if it were expensive for retrofitting them in old stations, they should still be required on new stations.

Evaporative emissions are extremely bad for our air as not only are they toxic when breated in by the users of the gas station, but they combine to contribute to major pollution problems city-wide.

There are significant costs to reducing some of the pollution we face, which cause health problems and other quality of life problems. If we can't be leaders in this area, then we should at least push to have rules similar to those in other states and cities.

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I guess I've figured out why this state and city have not bothered to request that this be done. The idea can't even get views or posts on Urban Planet. :)

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I guess I've figured out why this state and city have not bothered to request that this be done. The idea can't even get views or posts on Urban Planet. :)

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I guess I've figured out why this state and city have not bothered to request that this be done. The idea can't even get views or posts on Urban Planet. :)

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The real issue is why does Charlotte continue to support the building of so many strip malls, big box retail, and endless sprawl housing that continues to put more cars on the road? Fix that problem and the recovery thing on the pumps won't matter.

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I agree with fixing the systemic issues underlying our excessive use of gasoline as a society. Within the construct of our culture, though, we should at least be demanding some mitigation like these. I have seen them in use in many states in the northeast that do not have the same sunlight-induced smog that we have in this state.

Evaporative emissions are basically 0mpg. We should look to reduce this waste directly into the atmosphere for which we receive no societal benefit and only societal harm.

Thanks for responding, guys. I know it is a bit specific, and we like to discuss broader topics, but I guess my feeling is that our leaders don't tend to get ideas unless ideas can buzz around sites like this.

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Another reason to shop at Costco...its gas stations all have vapor recovery on pumps--even here in Charlotte. It costs between $30K and $80K to install these devices at a new gas station and there is quite a bit of training involved in servicing and maintaining the systems. Add to those costs the fact that the state would need to hire and train inspectors and I think you have your answer. It all comes down to money.

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This is really a State issue and not one the City Council would have much say over.

However the City Council would be a good place to start since they have an Environment Cmte now and they could certainly ask that these devices be added to their annual NC Legislative Agenda.

Pop an e-mail off to the members of the Enviroment Cmte and see what their response is.

Now that I think about it, probably would be better to e-mail your County Commision rep, as it is the county that is in charge of local air quality and health issues.

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A while back, I emailed a rep in the state government about it. Their answer was that NC was mostly rural and would not warrant such costs. Now that gas companies, including local retailers are more profitable (it would probably be a matter of a couple of weeks before the costs were covered), and the costs of such pollution are high within cities like Charlotte, it seems to me to be time to start considering it.

Everyone always wonder what it could be that caused their friend or parent or child or colleague to get cancer, but that the answer is 'everything'. When our dry cleaning, our pans, our gas, our siding, our plastic water bottles, our chairs, our computers sitting right in front of us now, our [name your daily activity] all have carcinogens, it starts to just be ridiculous. Why not clean up the easy stuff for which there is a revenue stream to cover the costs. Changing from gasoline altogether is an amazing goal, but surely we could do these interim steps beforehand.

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Maybe they could use Mecklenburg as a test run for the vapor capture systems. With the current state of our air we really need to be doing everything we can.

It used to be the case that only the urban counties in NC requiered the tailpipe emissions test during inspection time, I don't see why they couldn't do something similar for these devices.

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It would also be my guess the giant fuel depot at Paw Creek releases more gas fumes in the air than all the gas stations combined in Charlotte. Some days, the fumes are so bad over there it will make you sick to breath the air. I think there are a lot of other places they could tackle pollution before trying to address this expensive fix. Of course they could require new gas stations to install the equipment.

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It would also be my guess the giant fuel depot at Paw Creek releases more gas fumes in the air than all the gas stations combined in Charlotte. Some days, the fumes are so bad over there it will make you sick to breath the air. I think there are a lot of other places they could tackle pollution before trying to address this expensive fix. Of course they could require new gas stations to install the equipment.

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Above- and under-ground tanks in NC are required to have vapor recovery already. But I'll have to take issue with you, media, on them not doing any good. In San Diego County (CA) alone, over 10,000 tons of gasoline vapor are recovered annually at service stations. That's a lot of hydrocarbons not being sent into the atmosphere.

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Interesting this topic should come up. I sent an inquiry to the State in 2005:

From: David

To: Brian

Date: 7/26/2005

Subject: Vapor Recovery question

I found you e-mail addresses on the "Stage I Vapor Recovery" page

(http://daq.state.nc.us/enf/vapor/). As a resident of Charlotte (where it's

a red ozone day today) - I have a quick question I'm hoping you can answer

for me. Why does the State of NC not mandate that all fueling locations

also implement Stage II Vapor Recovery Nozzles on gas pumps (i.e.

http://www.husky.com/v34convac.htm). I moved from Washington State and all

of the pumps in the metro Seattle area were required to have these sorts of

vapor recovery devices. I know there would be an added cost to service/gas

station operators to convert their pumps but it seems like we're still out

of compliance on ozone and other pollutants and this action would help us

get closer to compliance.

Thanks,

David

And this is the response I got:

From: Brian

To: David

Date: 7/27/2005

Subject: Re: Vapor Recovery question

North Carolina has no immediate plans to implement Stage II Vapor Recovery. North Carolina does require that Stage II piping be installed at gasoline service stations in several of the largest metropolitan areas. North Carolina is a NOx limited state (at high VOC to NOx ratios (> about 15 to 1), an area is considered NOx limited, and VOC controls may be ineffective) and Stage II vapor recovery will not be implemented unless for air toxics issues. In addition, EPA has required Onboard Vapor Recovery (ORVR) for passenger vehicles. Onboard vapor controls for the lighter class of light trucks (those under 6000 pounds GVWR) were phased in during models years 2001 through 2003, while onboard controls for the heavier light trucks (those from 6001 through 8500 pounds GVWR) will be phased in during models years 2004 through 2006. When fully phased in the new controls will capture 95 percent of refueling emissions to cut volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxins by 300,000 to 400,000 tons nationwide.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to either call or email me.

Thanks

Brian

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I guess we have an acceptable level of 'air toxics'.

To a degree this seems like a technical answer to explain away a policy that this state has chosen to be low costs for businesses and low regulations for environmental protection. I do completely understand the intent of being pragmatic in the approach to regulations, however, this seems to me to be a little bit of hooie. If we accept that we are a high VOC location, and should instead focus on NOx, then, um, why are we in the process of allowing the building of a $3 billion coal power plant, with extremely high NOx emissions?

Low cost power = coal power = high NOx emissions are okay.

Low cost gas = cheap pumps = high VOC emissions are okay.

That would be why Charlotte has the worst smog in the country. We are more interested in low cost energy, than in properly regulating industry to protect.

I'm sure a bureaucrat can come up with a good reason to allow e.coli beef to reach restaurants (most of it cooks out, and only a couple dozen people die from it per year) if the politics thought it were acceptable. Instead, we find it wholly unacceptable for such things to be allowed. But we accept bureaucrats telling us the reasons that is okay for businesses to regularly expose their customers to carcinogens.

Oh well, geriatric life is no fun at all, so it is good to live in a state with lower life expectancy due to regs like this.

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