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Gas may go up with EPA act

Special fuel to control ozone a possibility

Kyle Griggs, of Lawrence, pumps gas while talking to his friend, Bione Dudley, of St. Louis, at the BP gas station at 23rd and Louisiana streets.

Kyle Griggs, of Lawrence, pumps gas while talking to his friend, Bione Dudley, of St. Louis, at the BP gas station at 23rd and Louisiana streets.

December 13, 2008


Gas may go up with EPA act

There may be trouble floating in the Lawrence air. Local leaders are being warned that Douglas County may be forced by the EPA to begin following stricter air quality regulations. Enlarge video

Being a commuter city may end up really biting Lawrence residents in the wallet.

Some local government leaders are now saying it looks likely that Lawrence will be included in a new EPA air-quality program that could require motorists to purchase higher-priced gasoline during summer months.

“This can end up costing us dearly as a community,” said Scott Zaremba, an owner of the Lawrence Zarco 66 gasoline stations.

Specifically, it could cost an extra 10 cents to 20 cents per gallon for specially formulated gasoline that is designed to help keep ozone levels in check.

If Lawrence is required to start using the special fuel, it may have its commuting ways to thank.

Air quality standards

For the past several years, the Kansas City metro area has been labeled by the Environmental Protection Agency as an area that currently does not meet the minimum air-quality standards when it comes to ozone. Gasoline stations in the metro area have been required to sell special low vapor pressure gasoline for the past several summers.

But now, EPA leaders are looking to place the same regulations on adjacent Douglas, Miami and Leavenworth counties. The reason is that those communities send large numbers of commuters into Kansas City. Those commuters help contribute to air-quality problems in the metro area.

And Douglas County is the biggest of the bunch. A new study by the Mid America Regional Council estimates 18,000 Douglas County commuters enter the metro area each weekday. That’s the largest total of any outside county.

That has some city leaders worried that the EPA is going to insist that Douglas County be included in Kansas City’s “nonattainment” area for air quality. A city staff memo recently told city commissioners that “it appears there is a good chance” that Douglas County will be found out of compliance with ozone air standards.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment likely will recommend to the EPA that Douglas County not be included in the nonattainment zone, but there have been indications that the EPA is poised to reject that recommendation.

“That’s kind of the drift we’ve been getting,” said Richard Ziesenis, director of environmental health for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.

‘Proactive’ steps

But both Ziesenis and Zaremba said they still are holding out hope that the EPA can be convinced to keep the county out of the special district.

Zaremba said the city needs to tout to the EPA its efforts in getting people to use public transit, and may want to think about investing more money into commuter bus systems to Kansas City and Topeka. It also needs to highlight efforts by Westar Energy to improve air quality at its Lawrence Energy Center coal power plant.

“My thought is that the EPA won’t throw you to the wolves if you are making reasonable efforts to control this,” Zaremba said. “We just have to be proactive.”

Ziesenis said it will be worth the city’s efforts to do what it can to stay out of the nonattainment zone. He said in addition to potentially higher gasoline prices, the EPA could require new industrial businesses looking to come to the county to meet stricter air-quality guidelines.

“This could really have some very serious ramifications on our economy,” Ziesenis said.

A decision by EPA on whether to require new regulations in Douglas County is not expected before March. The county could be given until 2013 before it would have to start selling the higher-priced gasoline.


iLikelawrence 6 years, 11 months ago

What a croc. Pushed it now because it has fallen so much so it won't make much of a difference but feel that extra 10-20 when its above $4... please

cowboy 6 years, 11 months ago

I wonder if that designation then kicks in the monitoring of businesses that generate VOC's like printers , ceramic kiln operators , paint shops , and even commercial BBQ smokers. Might have a few businesses here that are impacted.

budwhysir 6 years, 11 months ago

Good to see they havent been worried about this while gas was at 4 dollars a gallon. Political greed and the act of sucking in tax money for personal income is about to drive me crazy.You watch when this tax is put in place, opec will decide we have to much oil reserve and slash production in half creating an oil shortage and pushing gas to 6 or 7 dollars a gallon.You know why????? cause the US automakers will get a bailout but will not have reserves or abilities to produce green cars.

BtY 6 years, 11 months ago

We are exceeding even the meager government regulations in our contribution to global disaster. The question isn't "How can we keep doing this at a bargain price?" Instead, we should be asking "How can Lawrence take a leadership role in reversing this suicidal trend?"

notajayhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

If I'm reading this correctly, they've already been doing this in the KC metro for a few years? For those of you who are unaware of what goes on outside the Lawrence city limits, gas is substantially cheaper there - I pay $1.29/gal down the street from my job. Why complain about this potential increase - why haven't you been complaining about the fact you're already paying an extra 20 cents, presumably in taxes?

gccs14r 6 years, 11 months ago

Maybe gas stations should install vapor recovery systems, instead. OTOH, anything that keeps people from commuting long distances to work by private vehicle is a good thing. All that time spent behind the wheel is time better spent either with one's family or at work being productive.

notajayhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says… "OTOH, anything that keeps people from commuting long distances to work by private vehicle is a good thing. All that time spent behind the wheel is time better spent either with one's family or at work being productive."Won't even come close to keeping me from commuting. I wasn't having a problem when gas was 4 bucks, another 20 cents now isn't even going to be noticed, even if I bought my gas in Lawrence (which I don't).You're right, gcc, I should be more 'productive' working at a fast food restaurant in Lawrence rather than commuting to a job that puts to use what I spent seven years in school for. Good plan. By the way, you don't seem to object as much to people who use mass transit to commute. As this usually at least doubles the commuting time (that time spent away from family and work) involved, I guess I'll stick to my car, just to keep you happy.

budwhysir 6 years, 11 months ago

I am already use to it, doesnt hurt much anymore.

Sigmund 6 years, 11 months ago

Cleaner environments cost more money and that cost will be disproportionally paid by the poor. Also notice it isn't that Douglas County has a problem it is KC's air quality that is the problem, yet Douglas County residents will be paying increased price. Also notice that even though gasoline consumption in the US including Lawrence, presumably, has continued to drop dramatically since the summer when gas was $4.00 / gallon. People parked their SUV's and trucks and are driving less even with gas on sale at less than half the price. Gasoline sales plummeted a record 14.7 per cent in November after falling 12.9 per cent in October. do we need to pay more for gas at a time when Detroit is having problems selling newer more efficient cars? If the poor are going to be hit the hardest why shouldn't they get something for it? Just pass a federal law that no one may drive a car that is more 8 years old and must purchase a new one. The auto workers keep their jobs, KC gets cleaner air, and the poor get a new more fuel efficient car. To make it 'locally produced car' require them to buy a Chevy Malibu built in Kansas City, Kansas. They can probably get one today, with all the incentives, for $20,000 loaded an it gets up to 33 mpg on that highway commute into KC, which they will need to do because Lawrence doesn't have many good paying jobs and they will need to pay off their loan.

TriSigmaKS 6 years, 11 months ago

SO stupid, why don't we have emissions testing with all of vehicles. This is ridiculous that we don't. If we did that, we wouldn't then have this issue with gas. I was just in Olathe and their gas was so much cheaper than ours.

Sigmund 6 years, 11 months ago

TriSigmaKS (Anonymous) says… "I was just in Olathe and their gas was so much cheaper than ours."Yep which just means I too will buy my gas in KC and most everything else there as well. With the new road and empTy sales taxes Lawrence is sending everyone a message. "Buy your stuff in KC or Topeka" and it is coming in loud and clear. Lawrence is headed for financial disaster and I sure hope there is bailout money still available, they are going to need it.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Save money and ride the K-10 Commuter Bus service. The more the merrier. Locally ride the T or better yet consider walking,biking or roller skating.Or move to KC metro...closer to work. Downtown KCMO has really come back alive with places to live. Rehabilitating old structures is turning downtown into a walkable community which may be part of their new GreenPrint agenda. Making wise use of existing resources.The remodeled downtown library is awesome. Cosentinos just opened a full blown super market at 13th and Main. Complete with deli,wine, brew and organic Central Soy Tofu(in the deli and produce department). Thanks developers and local politicians who consistently say yes to our development of the Lawrence bedroom community.... the real culprits to high dollar living in Lawrence. 18,000 residents commute. I've always wondered why local politicians did not include higher paying jobs into the growth plans before building bedrooms?

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