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EPA Issues Fuel Waiver in El Paso County in Texas Due to Two Refinery Outages — OPIS

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued an emergency waiver in El Paso County in Texas to address a fuel supply shortage caused by the unplanned outages at Delek US Holdings Inc.'s 74,000 b/d Big Spring refinery and Marathon Petroleum Corp.'s 140,000 b/d El Paso refinery.

In a Monday letter, EPA Administrator Michael Reagan said the agency has been actively monitoring the supply of gasoline to El Paso County and has concluded that it is "necessary and appropriate to take action to minimize or prevent the disruption of an adequate supply of gasoline to consumers."

A Marathon spokesman said the company typically does not comment on its operations, and a Delek spokesman did not respond to an OPIS email.

According to the OPIS Refinery Maintenance Report, the Delek Big Spring refinery reported an unidentified equipment malfunction in an Aug. 12 Texas Commission on Environmental Quality filing, resulting in flaring and emissions lasting for about six hours.

EPA said it has waived a requirement under the Clean Air Act that low-volatility 7 lbs./square inch RVP must be sold in the El Paso area between June 1 and Sept. 16, in response to a TCEQ request on behalf by Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday.

The fuel waiver was effective Monday and will continue through Sept. 16, EPA said.

Under this temporary waiver, EPA said fuel companies such as refiners and blenders may produce, sell and distribute gasoline in El Paso County with an RVP of no more than 9 psi, or 10 psi if the gasoline contains between 9%-15% ethanol.

The Clean Air Act requires certain metropolitans and cities, particularly densely populated areas, to only sell low-volatility gasoline during the summer months to limit ozone pollution.

This year, EPA has been active in granting fuel waivers to ensure adequate supply during potential shortages, a move aiming to prevent prices from spiking at the gas pump.

On June 1, EPA waived the volatility limits for E15 in certain areas during the summer driving season, marking the second year in a row that the administration has moved to lift restrictions on the ethanol blend. That waiver is also active until mid-September after EPA extended the waiver for a seventh time.

Lifting restrictions of using only low-volatility gasoline could have adverse health effects, however, because ground-level ozone can trigger respiratory issues such as congestion and chest pain as well as reduce lung function and worsen asthma and bronchitis, according to EPA.


This content was created by Oil Price Information Service, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. OPIS is run independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.


--Reporting by Frank Tang,; Editing by Michael Kelly,

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 29, 2023 12:31 ET (16:31 GMT)

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