Lower Gas Prices Should Continue This Summer

Lower Gas Prices Should Continue This Summer

By / State News / Wednesday, 10 June 2015 04:00

RALEIGH, N.C. : June 3rd, 2015 - Motorists in the Triad and Triangle should benefit from lower gasoline prices again this summer due to a change in gasoline standards that state environmental officials gained approval for in 2014.
The change allows service stations in the Triad and Triangle metropolitan areas to sell the same kind of gasoline as in other parts of the state, rather than switching to more expensive, low-volatility fuel during the summer months. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, had required low-volatility gasoline for many years in the Triad, Triangle and Charlotte metro areas under state plans for reducing ozone levels.  The N.C. Division of Air Quality, or DAQ, requested the change because the Triad and the Triangle no longer violate the federal ozone standard and the division’s analyses determined that low-volatility gasoline had no discernable effect on ozone levels.
The low-volatility gas requirement remains in effect for the Charlotte metropolitan area, but DAQ has submitted a request to relax the standard for the Charlotte area as well. That request is still awaiting EPA approval. A DAQ analysis last summer found that low-volatility gasoline cost about 7 cents more per gallon on average than gasoline with less stringent vapor requirements. Thus, the relaxation of the fuel standard saved motorists about $18 million total from June 1 to Sept. 15, 2014.
Low-volatility gasoline had been required as a way to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which contribute to the formation of ozone in the lower atmosphere. However, DAQ found that naturally-occurring levels of VOCs from trees and other vegetation overwhelm the amounts coming from gasoline, so the stricter vapor limits had virtually no benefits for air quality. 
Despite the change in the fuel standard, 2014 was the cleanest year on record for air quality in North Carolina, with no exceedances of the ozone standard in the state for the first time since air monitoring began in the early 1970s. In 2013, the state had only one ozone exceedance.
More information on air quality issues can be found at the DAQ website, www.ncair.org

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