EPA expands Hurricane Harvey fuel waiver

By Lisa Gibson | August 30, 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expanded its Reid vapor pressure waiver to avoid fuel supply disruptions in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Effective immediately, the waiver allows regulated parties to produce, sell and distribute conventional and reformulated winter gasoline with an RVP of 11.5 pounds per square inch in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Washington D.C. The waiver is in effect through Sept. 15.

“The shutdown 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 says in a letter to the governors of those 12 states and the mayor of Washington D.C.

An Aug. 26 waiver for certain reformulated gasoline and RVP requirements didn’t deliver enough relief, wrote Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen in an Aug. 28 letter to Pruitt. In that letter, Dinneen urged EPA to extend the waiver to 10 psi for all finished gasoline blended with ethanol in conventional and RFG areas nationwide. 

Following Pruitt’s Aug. 30 letter announcing the waiver expansion, Dinneen released this statement: “It appears that today’s multi-state waiver letter from EPA effectively allows for an early end to the summer volatility control season and allows immediate use of winter gasoline in conventional gasoline areas. This allows for the sale of E15 in those conventional gasoline areas of the states covered by the waiver and is effectively what we asked of the agency on Monday. Retailers must still meet or be deemed compliant with other regulatory requirements associated with selling E15, such as the Misfueling Mitigation Plan. But consumers facing likely gasoline supply issues as a result of Hurricane Harvey are one important step closer today to a high-octane, low-cost alternative.”