In response to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline due to a cybersecurity attack, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan issued two emergency fuel waiver to help alleviate fuel shortages in states whose supply of gasoline has been impacted by the pipeline shutdown. In addition to the waivers, the American ethanol industry says it can step in to help with the current fuel shortage.
The EPA has waived the federal Reid vapor pressure requirements for fuel sold in Reformulated Gasoline areas of District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to facilitate the supply of gasoline. This waiver will continue through May 18, 2021.
The second waiver waives the requirements for low volatility conventional gasoline and Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) for the District of Columbia and areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and also includes Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Specific Counties of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. This waiver began May 11, 2021 and ends May 31, 2021.
Heading into the sixth day after the cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline, Growth Energy sent a letter to EPA Administrator Regan and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Granholm pressing for immediately reduced restrictions to higher ethanol-blended fuels as relief for resulting supply disruptions and rising gas prices.
“[E15] is now sold at nearly 2,400 locations across the country including several hundred locations throughout the southeast — where the impact of the Colonial is most felt. By immediately removing remaining regulatory hurdles and providing greater access to E15, you can help keep fuel prices in check for American consumers and ease concerns about fuel supply,” wrote CEO Emily Skor.
“We ask that you make E15 broadly available at all fuel terminals in areas impacted by related fuel shortages. We also request EPA finalize the proposed rule that would broaden the availability of existing infrastructure for use with E15 and related labeling concerns. We also urge you to remove unnecessary misfuelling requirements including restrictions on the use of E15 in shared fueling hoses with 10 percent blended fuel and related fuel sampling requirements. Finally, we strongly encourage the government to strengthen its use of higher ethanol blends such as E85 in its current flex-fuel vehicle fleet.”
According to a report from AAA, “The national gas price average jumped six cents to $2.96. If the trend continues, an increase of three more cents would make the national average the most expensive since November 2014 — the last time we saw average prices at $2.99 and higher.”
AAA reassures the American people by saying there is sufficient gasoline supply in our country (235.8 million bbl). In addition, the Department of Transportation’s temporary hours-of-service exemption for tanker trucks will ease the strain, but will not immediately resolve the issue.