Release 09-28
April 1, 2009

    Dimitri Stanich
ARB encouraging enforcement discretion in early phase
of April 1 deadline for gas station upgrades

Vapor recovery improvements will protect public health

Infrared video dramatically showing uncontrolled emissions

Media outlets interested in broadcast quality versions should contact ARB public information office for copies.

SACRAMENTO - ARB Chairman Mary Nichols called on the 35 local air districts in charge of enforcing the April 1 deadline for the installation of enhanced vapor recovery equipment at service stations to exercise discretion and restraint in light of the current economic situation.

"As Chairman of the Air Resources Board, I share the concerns expressed by the Governor and the legislature in enforcement of California's Enhanced Vapor Recovery Rule in light of the current economic situation," Nichols said. "While ARB adopted this regulation in 2000, the 35 local air districts in the state are responsible for enforcing compliance with the rule. As such, I directed Executive Officer James Goldstene to urge the districts to exercise their enforcement authority with discretion and restraint."

As of yesterday, 80 percent of the 11,000 stations throughout the state had either complied with the regulation or had applied for a permit to do so. ARB experts estimate that the retrofits will cost roughly $11,000 per pump.

The required improved nozzles and vapor processors will eliminate the daily release of up to ten tons of smog-forming compounds from spillage and fugitive emissions -- the equivalent of taking 450,000 cars off the road.

The requirements will be enforced by personnel from the 35 air districts throughout the state and apply to gasoline-dispensing facilities in regions that fail to meet federal ozone standards - including the Los Angeles basin, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, greater Sacramento region and San Diego.

Officials expect that some businesses may miss the compliance date and are encouraging them to contact local air district representatives as soon as possible to work on a plan for compliance. If they can show a good faith effort in reaching compliance they may avoid fines.

Gasoline vapors are primarily made of hydrocarbons, which react with other air pollutants to form ozone. The main constituent of smog, ozone can lead to asthmatic and other respiratory health problems. The new systems will also reduce consumer exposures to benzene, a constituent of gasoline and known carcinogen.

California's ARB manages the emissions from the state's gasoline distribution system, including storage and transfer operations. ARB has required vapor recovery systems in California for over 30 years. Before the implementation of the current regulations adopted in March 2000, vapor controls eliminated 347 tons of hydrocarbon emissions daily. When fully implemented the enhanced vapor recovery regulations will reduce emissions by an additional 25 tons/day statewide.

Facility operators should contact their local air district for specific requirements before modifying facilities. Information to assist station owners is also available at

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.