EPA Waives Fuel Rule in Four States After Indiana Refinery Fire
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has issued an emergency fuel waiver to help alleviate fuel shortages in four midwestern states whose supply of gasoline has been impacted by an electrical fire at a BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana.
The EPA waived the federal regulations and federally enforceable State Implementation Plan requirements for fuel volatility on gasoline sold in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin to boost the supply of fuel in these areas.
The waiver will continue through Sept. 15.
The refinery, which has been shut down since Saturday, provides between 20% and 25% of the gasoline, jet fuel and diesel used in the states.
In a letter to state officials, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the agency determined the waiver is necessary “to minimize or prevent disruption of an adequate supply of gasoline to consumers.”
The refinery shutdown comes as gas prices across the U.S. have fallen for 11 straight weeks. On the day of the fire, the average price of gas was $3.81 per gallon, or about $1.20 lower than the mid-June peak.
But by Monday, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said prices in Indiana had begun going up and had reached $3.99 a gallon.
“It certainly is a good move,” De Haan said of the EPA’s action, adding that it will most definitely “soften” the impact of the refinery closure, particularly if it lasts a few days.
The Clean Air Act allows Regan, in consultation with the Department of Energy, to waive certain fuel requirements to address shortages.
As a result of the BP refinery shutdown, Regan determined that extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances exist and has granted a temporary waiver to help ensure that an adequate supply of gasoline is available in the affected areas until normal supply to the region can be restored.
As required by law, EPA and the Department of Energy evaluated the situation and determined that granting a short-term waiver was consistent with the public interest.
EPA and DOE are continuing to actively monitor the fuel supply situation resulting from the BP refinery shutdown and considering additional measures to alleviate the impact.
BP said no one was hurt at the refinery as a result of the fire, but that the brief blaze caused a “loss of utilities” forcing at least a partial shutdown.
The refinery is located along Lake Michigan’s shoreline about 15 miles southeast of Chicago.