California gas stations defy new pollution rule
Wednesday is the deadline for California’s gas stations to install sophisticated nozzles and hoses to control vapor emissions at the pump, and the Los Angeles Times reports that some one in five station owners are in open defiance of the new state order.
Gas station owners say that the new equipment is so expensive that buying it during the worst economic slump in decades would put them out of business.
“It may be necessary to protect public health, but it’s unaffordable,” James Hosmanek, who owns a Chevron station in San Bernardino, told the newspaper.
Hosmanek, who has already laid off eight employees as his business struggles to survive the recession, said banks and equipment lenders have rejected his requests for some $60,000 in loans he would need to buy eight new nozzles and hoses and that “even if I could get the funding, I couldn’t make the payments.”
He told the Times that the owner of a Shell station down the street complied with the new order by putting the equipment on credit cards, a solution he calls “financial suicide.”
Hosmanek and his fellow resistance fighters are hoping for a last-minute reprieve with the help of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who last week asked the state legislature to give the station owners another year to comply. And a Democrat Assemblyman has introduced legislation that would provide $8 million in grants to the stations.
But public health and environmental groups are fighting back, saying that the gas stations have long known the new rules were coming.
“We are extremely disappointed in the governor’s action,” Bonnie Holmes-Gen of the American Lung Association told the paper. “California must not bend to pressure from a small group of gasoline station owners who are using the current economic situation as an excuse.”
Photo credit: Reuters/ Fred Prouser (a Chevron station in California)