SHELBY COUNTY, TN – On December 22, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule to relax the federal Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) standard on gasoline sold in Shelby County during summer ozone season (June 1 through September 15 each year). Specifically, this rule amends the federal standard from 7.8 pounds per square inch (psi) to 9.0 psi. Increasing the psi of vapor pressure on gasoline reduces the evaporation of gasoline, whose vapors contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, a known contributor to health problems, including lung tissue irritation, reduced lung function, and sensitization to other pollutants.
This action is a response to a petition prepared by the Pollution Control Section of the Shelby County Health Department and submitted through the Tennessee Air Pollution Control Board. The petition identified three key items:1) The area attained the 2008 ozone standard in 2016 and further air quality improvements have allowed the area to meet the new, more stringent standard,2) Widespread use of evaporation-reducing technologies in recent years, such as on-board vapor recovery on cars, has greatly reduced the effectiveness of RVP restrictions in reducing emissions,3) The relatively small emission increase from this change will not increase local ozone concentrations or interfere with any other air quality standard.
“The relaxation of this standard will translate directly into slightly lower gasoline prices in Shelby County,” commented Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Director of the Shelby County Health Department, “though the difference may only be a few pennies per gallon, we estimate a positive impact to the local economy of approximately $9 million per year.”“I appreciate the efforts of our pollution control team at the health department. Their work will help improve the air quality throughout Shelby County, said Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr.