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April Fuel's Day: For thousands of gas stations April 1, 2009 is a joke that isn't funny

 

Gas prices have surged 10¢ a gallon in the last 4 days. Now, an enforcement action by appointed bureaucrats at an obscure government agency could eliminate California's toughest gasoline retailers overnight and force prices higher

 

It sounds like a cruel joke, but it is the law:  A well-intentioned effort to minimize pollution from dripping gas nozzles could drive California's most competitive gas stations straight into insolvency.

Rule 461 mandates that by April 1, 2009, all gas stations in California must be retrofitted with nozzles that minimize drips. 

UCAN is requesting that the deadline be extended another year to prevent job losses and bankruptcies by cash-strapped gas stations. 

A "dripless" nozzle sounds like a great idea, but the new pumps are expensive, costing an estimated $8,000 or more per island. Part of the problem is that the nozzles can only work with special equipment that must be installed under the ground to get the new pumps to work. This means digging up an entire gas station simply to install a slightly more effective nozzle. 

But the real problem is that gas stations can't get loans to pay for the much-needed work because credit markets are tight. 

UCAN urges a delay of Rule 461 enforcement by CARB, the California Air Resources Board. Delaying implementation by one year could save thousands of jobs, preserve hundreds of small businesses, and help prevent an anti-competitive market for gasoline.

Read UCAN's letter to CARB.