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Senators ask Wolf to press for relief from ‘summer gas’ mandate

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Three Republican state senators are asking Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to support lifting the requirement for “summer gas,” which drives up the cost of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania.

Sens. Elder Vogel, Randy Vulakovich and Don White in a letter urged Wolf to push the state Department of Environmental Protection to formally petition the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

It comes the same week that the average price of a gallon of gas in Pennsylvania reached $3, for the first time since November 2014.

“In order to avoid an unnecessary increase in gasoline prices this summer, we request you urgently instruct your DEP to take any and all actions necessary to… formally request suspension of this unnecessary regulation through whatever waivers or notice may be needed,” the senators wrote in a letter to the governor.

Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott said the administration shares the senators’ desire to end the requirement.

“In fact, last week DEP announced that the department will no longer enforce the low RVP rule,” Abbott said. “DEP expects to submit the formal… revision shortly, and will work with EPA to see that it is reviewed and hopefully approved as quickly as possible.”

Since 1999, the state Department of Environmental Protection and federal Environmental Protection Agency have required that gasoline sold between May 1 and September 15 in the seven-county Greater Pittsburgh area have a Reid Vapor Pressure, or RVP, of 7.8 psi. Regular gasoline has an RVP of 9.0.

It’s intended to reduce air pollution.

This “summer gas” is routinely more expensive than gasoline sold in the rest of Pennsylvania and also in neighboring Ohio and West Virginia, the senators said.

“Surely you are as eager to avoid increasing gasoline prices for our mutual constituents as we are and understand our dismay over the length of time it has taken your DEP to formally submit this request to EPA,” the senators wrote.

“The roughly 2.5 million residents of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties would certainly appreciate any and all efforts to provide relief of any more ‘pain’ at the gas pump this summer than is already being inflicted. We appreciate your consideration of this urgent request and look forward to your response.”

Act 50 of 2014 started the process for the elimination of the statutory requirements for RVP gasoline in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland Counties during the summer months.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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