The sale of gasoline with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) will be allowed in 12 states and Washington, DC, under a temporary waiver issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the impacts from Hurricane Harvey.
“The shut-down of nearly a dozen refineries and extreme weather prohibiting fuel barge movement in the Gulf-area, with several other refineries operating at reduced capacity, has continued to limit the production and availability of fuel to areas both within and outside of the Gulf area,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a letter to officials in the states and Washington, DC. The Colonial Pipeline that provides fuel to the U.S. East Coast has also been impacted, operating a reduced capacity, he noted.
Under provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA), the use of low volatility gasoline is required during summer months, situation which has prevented the sale of E15 in summer months. The temporary action is in effect through September 15, 2017, but effectively ends the summer driving season restrictions in the states and Washington, DC, covered by the announcement.
“I have determined that an ‘extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstance’ exists that will prevent the distribution of an adequate supply of gasoline to consumers,” Pruitt said. “This extreme and unusual fuel circumstance is the result of a hurricane, an event that could not reasonably have been foreseen or prevented, and is not attributable to a lack of prudent planning on the part of suppliers of the fuel to these areas.”
The waiver of federal Reid vapor pressure (RVP) requirements in designated states is to “minimize or prevent problems with the supply of gasoline to these areas,” Pruitt said. While stating the waiver is only effective through September 15, he said, “Should conditions warrant, this waiver may be modified, terminated or extended, as appropriate.”
The waiver applies to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia.