Community Issues

Less Pain at the Pump This Summer -- Maybe

Drivers and gas stations were looking at up to 50-cents more a gallon without county council vote to remove regulations requiring summer blend gas.

Looks like drivers and owners of gas stations in Allegheny County can probably breathe a sigh of relief. A vote by Allegheny County Council means the county will likely not be required to use more expensive summer blend gasoline this year.

Here's why the vote was so important in Allegheny County : as of December 20, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties were no longer required by the Environmental Protection Agency to sell the more expensive summer blend gas. Summer blend or "Low-RVP" gasoline helps reduce pollution during the hotter summer months.

Allegheny County was the only county not in a position to take advantage of the relaxed regulations because the county manages its own air quality program. A county council vote was needed to get rid of the summer blend rule and join the six surrounding counties in using the relaxed standards. Council took that vote at its meeting Tuesday, and unanimously approved the relaxed standards. The state still needs to submit the county's plan to the Environmental Protection Agency, which needs to approve it by a May 1 deadline. That's the only thing that could throw a monkey wrench into the exemption plan.

Since summer blend gas can be up to 50-cents a gallon more expensive, having Allegheny county still under the tougher environmental rules would have been expensive for drivers and disastrous for gas station owners. Those station owners on or near the county line expected most of their customers would fill-up in neighboring counties where regular, cheaper gasoline was available. "This step ensures that the price of gas in Allegheny County is the same as in our surrounding counties," said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement.

"Thank you to County Council for their quick action on this legislation." Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive

The EPA still has to approve council's decision to remove the RVP restrictions in Allegheny County. But since surrounding counties are already exempt, experts don't expect that to be a problem.

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