Jeffrey Tucker has a pretty good rant about the new gas cans that don’t work–thanks to the federal government.
The nozzle doesn’t quite go in. I tilted it up and tried to jam it in.
I waited. Then I noticed gas pouring all down the side of the car. So I pulled it out and experimented by pouring it on the ground. There was some weird contraption on the outside and it wasn’t clear how it worked.
I poured more and more on the ground. Some got on my shoe. Some got on my hands. Some got on my suit.
Gas was everywhere really — everywhere but in the tank. It was a gassy mess. If someone had lit a match, I would have been a goner.
Finally I turned out the crazy nozzle thing a few times. It began to drip in a slightly coherent direction so I jammed it in. I ended up putting about one cup of gas in, started my car and made it to the gas station.
I’m pretty sure gas cans used to work. Yes. It was a can. It had a spout. It had a vent hole on the other side. You stuck in the spout and tipped. You never saw the gas.
Then government “fixed” the gas can. Why? Because of the environmental hazards that come with spilled gas. You read that right. In other words, the very opposite resulted. Now you cannot buy a decent can anywhere. You can look forever and not find a new one.
Instead you have to go to garage sales. But actually people hoard old cans. There is a burgeoning market in kits to fix the can.
The whole trend began in (wait for it) California. Regulations began in 2000, with the idea of preventing spillage. The notion spread and was picked up by the EPA, which is always looking for new and innovative ways to spread as much human misery as possible.
An ominous regulatory announcement from the EPA came in 2007: “Starting with containers manufactured in 2009… it is expected that the new cans will be built with a simple and inexpensive permeation barrier and new spouts that close automatically.”
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 five 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. There are other silly things now, too, but the biggest problem is that they do not do well what cans are supposed to do…
There is no possible rationale for these kinds of regulations. It can’t be about emissions really, since the new cans are more likely to result in spills. It’s as if some bureaucrat were sitting around thinking of ways to make life worse for everyone, and hit upon this new, cockamamie rule.
These days, government is always open to a misery-making suggestion. The notion that public policy would somehow make life better is a relic of days gone by. It’s as if government has decided to specialize in what it is best at and adopt a new principle: “Let’s leave social progress to the private sector; we in the government will concentrate on causing suffering and regress.”
Whenever bureaucrats actually do anything, they make our lives worse. The best we can hope for is that they just cash their paychecks and talk football around the water cooler.
In any event, online forums, particularly those related to boating, are full of comments by people bitching and moaning about the new cans. In one of those comment threads, somebody asked if it’s possible to fill a non-approved can such as a water can or jerry can at a gas station. No, came the reply, if they see you they will shut off the pump. That reply induced a frustrated commenter to speculate that there must have been more freedom even in Nazi Germany. Well, Nazi Germany was not in fact freer in every respect, but it’s true that under the Nazis you could as least go to a gas station and fill a jerry can. After all, they invented it!
Another response to the new cans is that people have posted loads of amusing youtube videos on how to hack the cans to make them work properly. For instance, in the video below, the hack involves drilling an air vent and plugging it with a tire valve stem. The problem with this hack, however, is that ethanol in the gas will cause the valve stem to deteriorate.
And why does the gas contain ethanol?