Waivers to ease Philadelphia-area gasoline shortage
Harrisburg, PA— Prompted
by gasoline supply shortages in the five-county Philadelphia area
(Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties),
Governor Edward G. Rendell requested that the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) issue a temporary waiver that would allow
gasoline suppliers to sell fuel that does not meet federal Clean
Air Act reformulated gasoline guidelines.
“We have information indicating
that a major gasoline supplier in the Philadelphia area is reporting
more than 160 ‘delivery-needed’ alarms, and many more
fuel outlets reporting that supplies are nearly exhausted,”
Governor Rendell wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Steven
L. Johnson. “In light of the circumstances, the requested
waiver is clearly necessary to serve the public interest.”
The gasoline shortages apparently
have been caused by problems associated with terminals making
the switch between “winterblend” gasoline and reformulated
blends that help curb summertime ground-level ozone pollution.
In addition, refiners have precipitously stopped using the octane
enhancer methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether (MTBE) exacerbating fuel
shortage problems since MTBE had constituted about 10 percent
“A short waiver will protect
the public without meaningfully polluting the air. We need the
federal government to act to help get us through what otherwise
will be a very difficult situation,” said Governor Rendell.
Three major petroleum refineries
in the Philadelphia area refine almost 700,000 barrels of crude
oil daily into gasoline, diesel fuel, and home heating oil, not
only for the commonwealth, but also for the entire East Coast.
The 1990 federal Clean Air Act
amendments created the federal reformulated gasoline program in
order to improve air quality in the nation’s worst ozone
nonattainment areas. The federal program requires specially formulated
gasoline blends that ensure significant reductions of ground-level
ozone forming pollution when it is used in our vehicles.
In Pennsylvania, the reformulated
gasoline program is federally mandated in the city of Philadelphia
and in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery and counties. These
counties were originally designated as a “severe”
nonattainment area for the old one-hour ozone national ambient
air quality standard and are currently in “moderate”
nonattainment for the new eight-hour ozone standard.