Ethanol helps alleviate fuel shortages caused by bp refinery fire

By Erin Voegele | August 31, 2022

The ethanol industry is poised to help alleviate fuel shortages in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin caused by the temporary shutdown of Bp’s oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana, following an Aug. 24 electric fire.

The Whiting refinery produces 430,000 barrels-per-day. The facility is the sixth largest in the U.S. and provides approximately 20 to 25 percent of the refined gasoline, jet fuel and diesel used in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The U.S. EPA on Aug. 27 issued an emergency fuel waiver to help alleviate fuel shortages in these four states. The agency waived the federal regulations and federally enforceable state implementation plan requirements for fuel volatility on gasoline sold in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin to facilitate the supply of fuel in these areas. The waiver is in place through Sept. 15.

The temporary waiver allows for high-volatility gasoline to be sold during the summer months, reducing fuel disruptions. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s office noted that the waiver also means that Illinois corn farmers will provide the needed fuel through their ethanol production.

“The Illinois agricultural and ethanol industries are poised to help motorists maintain a steady supply of liquid fuel in the face of the tragic burning of the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana,” said Marty Marr, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association. “Because locally grown and produced biofuels can displace a large percentage of petroleum fuel, motorists can feel confident that they are not only purchasing an available, safe, high-quality fuel, but also that they are saving money at the pump and cleaning the air when they drive. Ethanol has 40-45 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline without ethanol, making this interim change to include more biofuels in our fuel supply a positive one for the environment. Illinois corn farmers hope Midwest consumers will be pleased at the price and the emissions when they fill up with E15 fuel.”