by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
With soon-to-be Category 4 Hurricane Florence threatening a Carolinas landfall, and with memories of food lost from power outages from previous hurricanes and winter storms, I finally did it: I bought a generator. And then I realized, if I’m still going to keep it going, I need more gasoline than I keep on reserve for my lawnmower. So I bought new gasoline cans.
And then I tried to fill up the generator using the relatively new (2009 and after), EPA-compliant gasoline can spout, the idea for which originated from the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
Wow. So that’s why everyone’s been complaining.
First, you have to constantly hold the spout in the spring-resisted “open” position. Second, you have to do this while you are pointing the spout in the general direction of the opening. Third, you have to do those things while being unable to bend and therefore position the spout properly. Fourth, there’s no vent so the spout doesn’t flow, it gulps and sloshes. Fifth, especially with a full can preventing you from taking a closer angle, you have to aim this gulping, sloshing thing in the general direction of the opening and hope. Sixth, you have to do this while carefully balancing a 30-pound weight that takes a looooooong time to belch out its contents.
Honestly, I think I could have filled the generator faster and with less spillage if I had used my older can, after downing a fifth of Laphroaig and running circles spinning my head against a baseball bat.
(For the record, I don’t recommend downing a fifth of Laphroaig, running circles spinning your head against a baseball bat, and attempting to dispense gasoline. That’s almost as bad as using a new “spill-proof,” “environmentally friendly” spout.)
If you want this history of this stupid thing, read Jeffrey Tucker’s 2012 piece for the Foundation for Economic Education: “How Government Wrecked the Gas Can.”
I’m glad I did. I learned something very important. Lacking a vent does more than just ensure more spillage of gasoline than unwrecked cans before 2009 (look, another government program that makes the very thing worse that it’s supposed to make better!).
It makes the new gas cans prone to explode.
I realized right away that there would be a private market solution to the problem. Among many other places (not to mention YouTube hacks), Amazon has some promising spout and vent kits. What I find interesting are the comments. Examples (note: this is not an endorsement; I just found the consumer comments interesting):
“I bought this spout to replacement those new spouts that come with containers now. The new spout spills easier than the old ones. That’s EPA crap for you. The new spouts are crap.”
“This is one of many such spout replacements for gas cans. All of them serve the purpose of enabling you to deep-six the cruddy monstrosities that California EPA ‘experts’ have foisted on us under the guise of consumer safety.”
“I have several 5 Gallon EPA mandated CARB compliant gas cans. The amount of time it takes to empty the 5 gallon gas can is absolutely mind boggling. I know safety first but when you are holding ~30 pounds of gas and trying to empty it into an ATV, Car, Motorcycle, Lawn Mower, whatever it gets really annoying. It used to take upwards of 5 minutes to dispense the fuel.”
A note about the graphic
I knew I used it before but couldn’t remember which post, so I searched for it. I see I used it in a post entitled “Only government can be this deplorably stupid.”
It was about the EPA making things worse.