By John Shumway


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NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) — Gas station corner in New Kensington, Westmoreland County, is just over a mile as the crow flies from the Glassmere station in Allegheny County just across the Allegheny River.

As things stand today, the price this summer at the gas station in Allegheny County could be higher by “close to 50 cents a gallon,” says Nila Manning of Countywide Petroleum.

“Well, I know where I’m going to shop at” and “25 cents would change my mind about where I’m buying gas” are some of the comments made by drivers pumping gas when told about the possible disparity.

In December. with improved ozone readings in the region, Pennsylvania dropped the need for summer gas, or RVP, in the seven counties of southwestern Pennsylvania. That means in Armstrong, Beaver, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties, you will not see your gas price going up the usual 10 to 20 cents a gallon when the summer gas arrives in March, April and May. But Manning points out, “not in Allegheny County.”

The Pennsylvania Petroleum Association is concerned because for Allegheny County to get out from under the summer gas requirement requires local legislative action and so far that has not happened.

Jim Kelly, the Allegheny County Health Department’s Deputy Director of Environmental Health, says the legislative approval is in the works.

“It went to the Board of Health. They approved that, and now it’s gone to county commission, the first council meeting, and they recommended that to county council,” he said.

The issue is the oil companies have to start producing the RVP gas the first of March in order to have it in all the gas stations by the mandatory day of May 1. That will start if the county’s approval isn’t done by then.

With the RVP gas being produced for only Allegheny County, Manning says the oil companies are looking at the increased costs.

“They’re saying close to 50 cents a gallon, and even if that’s an exaggeration, half of that would cripple gas stations in Allegheny County,” he said.

Manning says it’s very simple. Drivers will know there is cheaper gas close by.

“I don’t see how you could compete. We know that 2 cents a gallon has a gigantic impact on the consumer,” he said.

For the RVP machine not to kick in, Allegheny County Council must approve the change at its Feb. 19 meeting. That will leave nine days to collect the County Executive’s signature, Pennsylvania DEP approval and Federal EPA approval.

The health department’s Kelly says it can be done.

“I’m fairly confident,” he said.

The retailers say the more expensive gas will go into production in March, unless the oil companies see that approval from the EPA in time because they don’t work on promises or intentions.