WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department on Saturday took steps to help alleviate potential fuel shortages in four states after the unanticipated shutdown of the BP Whiting, Indiana refinery.
Reuters reported Friday the 435,000 barrel-per-day refinery was shut down and undergoing damage assessment following loss of electrical power and cooling water systems in a Wednesday fire. .
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The EPA said Saturday it waived through Sept. 15 federal regulations for fuel volatility on gasoline sold in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to facilitate the supply of fuel.
EPA said Administrator Michael 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.”
EPA and the Energy Department are “continuing to actively monitor the fuel supply situation resulting from the BP refinery shutdown and considering additional measures to alleviate the impact,” EPA said.
The U.S. Transportation Department issued an exemption https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/msc-regional-emergency-2022-011-8-26-2022-illinois-indiana-michigan-and-wisconsin to maximum driving time rules for truck drivers for those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to the four states.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office on Saturday said she was working “to ensure continued access to an adequate supply of motor fuels by waiving regulations on motor vehicle hours-of-service rules, as the effects of the outage at the plant are expected to spread across the region and will impact drivers transporting such fuel.”
Whitmer signed an executive order Saturday exempting motor carriers and drivers transporting fuel state maximum driving and on-duty limits.
Whitmer also temporarily suspended regulations to accelerate the transition to the fall fuel supply in conjunction with the EPA action.
Whitmer’s office said Whiting provides approximately 20% to 25% of the refined gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel used collectively by Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
“While efforts are underway to find ways to replace the supply from the Whiting refinery, disruptions in the fuel supply are likely,” Whitmer’s office said. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)