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EPA to remove vapor-capturing rubber boot from gas pump handles

By Todd Sperry, CNN
updated 8:53 PM EDT, Thu May 10, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Obama administration and the EPA intend to change the look of gas pump handles
  • The EPA plans to phase out the rubber boots on pump handles
  • The rubber fitting is redundant as most cars are equipped to capture the vapors

Washington (CNN) -- Even though there's been little change in gas prices recently, drivers could soon see changes in the look of the pumps they use to fill up.

The Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday they intend to phase out the rubber boots on gas pump handles now used to capture harmful gasoline vapors while refueling cars.

The EPA says the vapor-capturing fuel pumps are redundant because more than 70% of all cars on the road today are equipped with on-board systems that capture the harmful vapors.

According to the EPA, 31,000 affected gas stations in mostly urban areas where smog is a problem will each save $3,000 apiece once the ruling is fully implemented.

"We will remain vigilant when it comes to eliminating regulations that are not necessary or that impose unnecessary burdens on America's families and businesses," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Since 1994, gas stations that did not meet air quality standards have been required to use gas vapor recovery systems.

The most obvious gas vapor recovery system for drivers is the rubber boot at the end of the fuel pump nozzle that fits directly over the gas tank opening.

When drivers refuel, gas vapors can escape and contribute to smog and harmful air pollution. To combat the release of these vapors, most gas stations have installed special gas pump nozzles that include the rubber boot to block vapors from escaping.

The EPA says the rubber fittings will be phased out as part of the new rule.

The White House decision is the latest government-wide review of federal regulations. The White House said in a statement it hopes Thursday's move will save consumers and businesses almost $6 billion in the next five years.

"By streamlining some rules and eliminating others," said Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, "we can save billions of dollars in unnecessary costs while continuing to protect the health and safety of the American people."

But for drivers, the decision will mean less hassle trying to get the rubber boot to fit over their gas tank opening. Motorcyclists and some recreational vehicle drivers have long complained that the environment-friendly gas nozzles were incompatible with their vehicles.

Other areas highlighted in the White House's announcement include allowing states to replace traffic signs that were previously federally regulated, changing railroad regulations related to freight train travel, and changing certain regulatory reporting requirements for hospitals and doctors.

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