Have you ever driven down a main road and thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of gas stations!” Well, I have. I’ve counted a total of 12 gas stations in my hometown of Menlo Park. Some may claim that having so many gas stations is convenient, but I say it’s a health and environmental hazard.
In the United States, 9,000 gasoline storage tank leaks are discovered every year, threatening the quality of groundwater in 45 states, including California. Gas stations also emit toxic, harmful substances such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Not to mention the 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by each gallon of gasoline burned. Overall, the abundance of gas stations in the Menlo Park area, including all San Mateo County cities, poses a threat to human health and environmental prosperity.
On Sept. 23, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an executive order ending sales of new gas-powered cars in the state by 2035. California, and especially Silicon Valley, is becoming increasingly electric. Given that many people in this area will be driving electric by 2035, we have no need to build new gas stations. Just earlier this year, Petaluma passed a bill that banned the construction of new gas stations in their city, and we need to join them.
I believe that the city councils of San Mateo County must propose similar gas station ban bills to Petaluma’s to establish ourselves as environmentally progressive cities. By proposing and passing an ordinance that will ban the construction of new gas stations, the cities of San Mateo County will improve the overall welfare of their citizens, as well as inspire other Bay Area cities to follow their lead.