NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

EPA Rule May Force Small Gas Stations Out Of Business

December 10, 1998

Service station owners, fleet operators and even government agencies have less than two weeks to upgrade their fuel tanks or incur fines of up to $11,000 a day. The 1989 Environmental Protection Agency regulation designed to protect ground water from contamination is expected to hit hardest in rural communities, where independent service station operators may be forced out of business because they can't afford the required improvements.

Some states are planning to order all tanks out of service that haven't met the December 22 deadline.

  • About 40 percent of the nation's underground fuel tanks haven't been upgraded -- a figure which the EPA expects will narrow to 25 percent by the deadline.
  • A survey found compliance varies from state to state -- with Alabama having the highest rate of noncompliance at 79.7 percent of tanks and Wyoming having the lowest noncompliance rate at 5 percent, as of November 24.
  • Major oil companies are in compliance at their company- owned stations, which comprise about 20 percent of the 182,600 stations nationwide.
  • But independent operators have the biggest problem -- with about 75 percent of the tanks in Alabama, for example, belonging to dealers operating at only a single location.

Some private operators, from school bus owners to police departments, may just empty and cap their tanks rather than try to have them certified.

Source: Chris Woodyard, "Gas Stations May Close in Face of EPA Deadline," USA Today, December 10, 1998.


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