PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It appears drivers in Allegheny County should prepare to pay more for summer gas this year, unless they’re willing to drive out of the county.
All the counties around Allegheny have been relieved of the requirement to sell the more expensive summer blend of gasoline, but Allegheny County could become an island of gas prices 10 to 50 cents higher a gallon than its neighbors by this summer.
The issue is EPA approval.
“That’s a formality. We have to submit it to the EPA saying we’re removing this rule while the state has already actually removed the rule as well,” Jim Kelly, the county Health Department Deputy Director of Environmental Health, said last week.
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It turns out the EPA doesn’t see it as a formality.
John Kulik, with the Petroleum Association, says the EPA told their association, “For the EPA to officially adopt the change, they have to do a 30-day public comment period which will stretch this out, unfortunately.”
Kulik says that comment period and the time needed after will push EPA approval well into the summer gas period.
“The suppliers have indicated they won’t supply Allegheny County until the EPA’s officially stated that this requirement from their point of view has been withdrawn,” Kulik said.
The reason — if the suppliers send the cheaper gas into Allegheny County before the EPA approves, they open themselves to lawsuits by environmental groups and huge fines.
Barring someone on the federal level doing a machete job on a lot of red tape, it means people will have to pay more for gas in Allegheny County.
County Council is expected to give its approval on Tuesday.
The Petroleum Association isn’t giving up on trying to pull off a bureaucratic miracle and getting this through the EPA quicker, but they do believe Allegheny County probably will start at least the beginning of the summer with higher prices that could be up to 50 cents more per gallon.