Why mess with a good thing? Because they can

no vent gas can

Modern Western society appears caught between alternately making its denizens’ lives easier – smartphones, handheld GPS, debit cards, etc. – and more difficult – air-travel hassles, low-flow toilets and so on.

Often, it would seem that for every convenience that business ushers in, government feels the need to tack on a burden or two. What’s most frustrating is that these aggravations are often utterly unnecessary.

Case in point: Gas cans. No, seriously.

Beginning in 2009, government regulation prevented the manufacture of gas with vents.

In an effort to prevent spillage – not a bad goal, mind you – the Environmental Protection Agency issued regulatory guidelines a few years ago that stated that, “ … new cans will be built with a simple and inexpensive permeation barrier and new spouts that close automatically.”

As Jeffrey Tucker of the Laissez Faire Club points out, “The government never said ‘no vents.’ It abolished them de facto with new standards that every state had to adopt by 2009. So for the last (four) years, you have not been able to buy gas cans that work properly. They are not permitted to have a separate vent. The top has to close automatically.”

What we have now, if you are unfortunate enough to have to rely on a gas can manufactured after 2008, is an implement that dispenses gasoline unevenly.

This is merely time consuming and inconvenient when pouring petrol into a vehicle, but it is downright frustrating and messy when trying to fill up lawnmowers and smaller gas-powered gizmos.

You’re far more likely to end up with a spill when the gas is alternately rushing out then slowing to trickle. That’s what happens when there’s only one spout which has to both pour gas and take in air.

In older models, a vent allows air in while gas is dispensed, allowing for an even flow.

Tucker adds that there’s also the problem of the exploding can. “On hot days, the plastic models to which this regulation applies can blow up like balloons. When you release the top, gas flies everywhere, including possibly on a hot engine.”

My first suspicion was that this dim-bulb directive was the result of lobbying by the kitty litter industry.

As someone who’s spilled more than his share of gas, oil, transmission fluid and goodness knows what other flammable and/or viscous liquids over the years, I’ve seen firsthand kitty litter’s exceptional absorbent qualities.

But Tucker’s take on matters such as this is probably closer to the mark: “It’s the bureaucrats’ way of reminding market producers and consumers who is in charge.”

(HT: Coyote Blog)


3 thoughts on “Why mess with a good thing? Because they can

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