Air Pollution:

EPA's Efforts To Control Vehicle Refueling and Evaporative Emissions

RCED-87-151: Published: Aug 7, 1987. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposals to adequately control motor vehicle refuelling and evaporative emissions, including the costs and benefits of alternative methods.

GAO found that: (1) EPA considered two alternatives for controlling refuelling emissions and determined that the onboard control method was superior; (2) the onboard control method requires motor vehicle manufacturers to equip vehicles with emission control systems; and (3) while onboard controls would cost an estimated $180 million per year and add about $19 to the average vehicle price, they would provide long-term emissions reductions and free consumers from the operation of any control equipment. GAO also found that: (1) by 1989, EPA plans to reduce hydrocarbon emissions by 6 percent by reducing the volatility of commercial gasoline during the summer months; (2) this plan would cost oil refineries an estimated $490 million annually and consumers about $20 per vehicle; and (3) while the motor vehicle industry favors lowering the volatility of commercial gasoline, the oil industry favors raising the volatility certification and modification of the evaporative emission control systems to handle higher gasoline volatility.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA stated that while the preliminary version of rulemaking that GAO reviewed did not contain the documentation, the documentation was in the final version published in the Federal Register in August 1987. GAO preliminary review of the August 1987 rulemaking disclosed no such documentation. GAO current work will determine whether the recommendation remains appropriate.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Office of Air and Radiation to include in its refuelling and evaporative control analyses better documentation of the cost-effectiveness of alternative ozone control strategies, including support for its $2,000 benchmark standard.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA August 1987 proposed rulemaking discussed the sensitivity of different cost variables and their impact in the cost/benefit estimates associated with refuelling and evaporative emission controls. An accomplishment report is not planned because, according to EPA, sensitivity analysis prompted by its own internal review and Office of Management and Budget input.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should direct the Office of Air and Radiation to include in its refuelling and evaporative control analyses a more explicit comparison of all the costs and benefits associated with the various refuelling and evaporative emission control strategies, including a more thorough analysis of the effects of key uncertainties.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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