EPA waives fuel rule in 4 states after Indiana refinery fire

EPA waives fuel rule in 4 states after Indiana refinery fire thumbnail

CHICAGO — The Environmental Protection Agency temporarily lifted a federal rule for fuel sales in four states in response to a fire last week at an Indiana oil refinery that could affect prices and supply.

The emergency waiver was granted Saturday for Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said. In a letter to state officials, Regan said the agency determined the waiver is necessary “to minimize or prevent disruption of an adequate supply of gasoline to consumers.”

The waiver lifts a Clear Air Act requirement that lower-volatility gasoline be sold in the states during summer months to limit ozone pollution. It is in effect until Sept. 15, the EPA said.

BP said its refinery in Whiting, Indiana, experienced an electrical fire Wednesday. No one was hurt, and the fire was put out, but it caused a loss of utilities in other parts of the refinery, forcing at least a partial shutdown. The refinery is located along Lake Michigan’s shoreline about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of Chicago, according to the company.

The company said Sunday it is working toward a “phased restart of the refinery,” but no date was given.

Governors in all four states requested the EPA waivers, according to the EPA’s letter. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office said the refinery provides about 20% to 25% of the gasoline, jet fuel and diesel used by Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

BP spokeswoman Christina Audisho said the company was working with local and state agencies and was still assessing when affected units can restart.

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