Time to put your stupid cap and look at what the Pennsylvania House, along with the help of many Democrats, just did. They voted 186 – 11 to change the Air Pollution Control Act and take summer blend gas off the market during the summer time in favor to cheapen gas prices.
Hmmmmm cheap gas prices??? YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY
But what’s the cost and difference between “summer blend” and “winter blend?”
Lots of drivers out there probably didn’t know (or care) that gasoline is blended differently for summer or winter. Recently, though, that issue has been capturing headlines, thanks to a showdown in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown wants to allow the early use of the so-called winter-blend gas in a play to bring down spiking gas prices in the Golden State.
The price of gas is a confusing, convoluted issue. But before we get into that, what exactly is the difference between summer and winter gas, anyway? Basically, winter gas is cheaper but not as pure, and worse for the environment.
The nation has some 20 different blends of gasoline to meet overlapping state and federal guidelines. The reason for the different grades of gas comes down to trying to control VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are more likely to evaporate the hotter it gets. More VOCs equal more smog, especially in summer, when the heat in the atmosphere increases the propensity for atmospheric ozone and adding in the VOCs increases the intensity of the smog.
The different grades of gas are measured on a system of RVP, or Reid Vapor Pressure, which is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). The higher the RVP number of a particular gas blend, the easier it is to vaporize and the worse it is for the environment. All gasoline blends have to be below 14.7 PSI, which is normal average atmospheric pressure. Any number higher than that and gasoline would become a gas.
During the summer heat, the RVP of gas has to be especially low to keep it from boiling off. The EPA mandates an RVP maximum of anywhere between 9.0 PSI and 7.8 PSI for summer-grade fuel, depending on region (though you get a fudge factor of 1 psi for using gas blended with 10 percent ethanol). There are even lower RVP-rated fuels for cities like Houston, New York, and L.A. Different states and cities have their own rules based upon their seasonal temperatures—Washington state needs different summer gas than, say, Florida. That’s why there are so many blends. To make it more complicated, the time for switching from summer- to winter-blend gasoline varies by state too.
Generally, the lower the RVP of a gas blend, the more it costs. For example, in winter you can blend butane, which is relatively plentiful and cheap, with gasoline. But butane, which has an RVP of 52 on its own, can’t be used in summer, when it would immediately boil off as a gas. So “purer” summer gasoline is by default costlier. (And there are other factors at play too. More people travel in summer during peak driving season, for instance, putting more stress on demand.)
In short, winter blend gas is worse for the environment and causes more smog because it has more Volatile Organic Compounds in it, and when those VOC’s get released during the morning rush hour and start cooking on a hot summer day, you get high ozone levels and a lot of smog. But don’t let that stop a State Representative who I am friends from writing something utterly stupid on facebook:
I just voted YES on SB 1037, which repeals the mandate to sell “summer-blend” gasoline in the seven-county area surrounding Pittsburgh from June 1 – September 15 each year. This should lower the price at the pump to provide some financial relief for drivers during peak driving season.
So if you’re an old person, a person with asthma or a young person and you live in Pittsburgh during summer and notice a lot more smogyness than normal, you can thank these idiots who don’t know anything about environmental science. But hey, cheaper gas prices, because who in their right fucking mind would vote against that?
Cohen, Mark(D); Daley, Mary Jo(D); DeLissio, Pamela(D); Freeman, Robert(D); Kim, Patty(D); McCarter, Steve(D); Miller, Daniel(D); Samuelson, Steve(D); Sims, Brian(D); Thomas, Curtis(D); Vitali, Greg(D)
You can thank these people for voting against a really shitty bill.