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Louisiana granted fuel waiver ahead of expected shortages - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

UPDATE: Louisiana, D.C., 11 states granted fuel waiver ahead of possible Harvey shortages

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The roof of a gas station sits in flood waters in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Aransas Pass, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay The roof of a gas station sits in flood waters in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Aransas Pass, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay

UPDATE Aug. 30, 4 p.m. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued emergency waivers allowing states from Maryland to Texas to ignore some clean-air requirements for gasoline to ensure an adequate fuel supply despite disruptions caused by Harvey, the Associated Press reported.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says the waivers issued Wednesday will help ensure an adequate supply of fuel throughout the South, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

In a letter to governors, Pruitt says the shutdown of nearly a dozen refineries and extreme weather conditions that have prevented fuel-barge movement in the Gulf Coast region justify the waiver. The designated states receive significant gasoline supplies from Gulf-area refineries.

The waivers are effective immediately and continue through Sept. 15 at least.

Affected states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.

UPDATE Aug. 29, 9 a.m. The U.S. EPA granted the waiver, according to a press release issued Monday evening:

Following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has approved an emergency fuel waiver for areas of Louisiana affected by the storm.

EPA has waived the requirement for low Reid vapor pressure (RVP) gasoline for the 16 parishes in the state where low-RVP fuel is required to be sold during the summer ozone season.  The waiver will allow the use of higher-RVP gasoline to be sold in these parishes through September 15.  

The waiver authority was exercised under the Clean Air Act and was granted by EPA Administrator Pruitt, in coordination with the U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, at the request of Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Chuck Carr Brown, on behalf of Governor John Bel Edwards.

As required by law, EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) 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 as a result of Hurricane Harvey, and will act expeditiously if extreme and unusual supply circumstances exist in other areas of the state.

To mitigate any impacts on air quality the Clean Air Act provides strict criteria for when fuel waivers may be granted, and requires that waivers be limited as much as possible in terms of their geographic scope and duration.

Original story, Aug. 28. As U.S. Gulf Coast oil and gas production remains impacted by Harvey, Louisiana has requested a waiver on national fuel requirements aimed at curbing air pollution.

The Clean Air Act requires the sale of certain gasoline blends during the summer months to help curb ozone pollution in non-attainment areas, explained Vivian Aucoin, environmental scientist manager with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s air planning division.

Because of the downed refineries and pipelines in Texas, shortages on that summertime blend are imminent, Aucoin said. LDEQ submitted a waiver request to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday.

“I think they’re gonna act on this pretty quickly,” Aucoin said, adding Florida has already begun experiencing the shortages.

The summertime fuel blends are sold during the hottest months of the year — from June 1-Sept. 15 — to reduce emissions from fast-evaporating chemicals, like benzene and toluene, Aucoin said. Such chemicals contribute to ozone pollution and related health problems, according to EPA.

The waiver will allow the sale of “wintertime” fuel about two weeks ahead of schedule, Aucoin said.

“It’s not a big air pollution problem at this time of the year, because you don’t have direct sunlight and heating problems like in June, July, August,” Aucoin said.

Over the weekend, EPA granted the waiver in Texas.

An estimated 2.2 million barrels of oil per day has been shut in because of wind, rain and flooding associated with Harvey, according to a report from S&B Global Platts.

Impacts include the closure of ExxonMobil, Shell and Phillips 66 refineries in Texas along with pipelines and terminals, between 20-25 percent of offshore oil and gas production and possibly thousands of wells in the Eagle Ford Shale, according to the report.

After days of evacuations when Harvey approached the Texas coast, oil and gas personnel had begun returning to some facilities in the Gulf.

Only about 19 percent of Gulf oil production and 18 percent of Gulf natural gas production remained shut in on Monday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

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