The EPA is granting an emergency waiver of clean fuel standards in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi because the impact of Hurricane Katrina “will prevent the distribution of an adequate supply of fuel to consumers that is compliant with the Clean Air Act.”
The EPA is temporarily allowing refiners, importers, distributors, carriers and retail outlets (regulated parties) to supply gasoline meeting a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) standard of 9.0 psi in areas of the affected states where a lower RVP is required.
Reid Vapor Pressure is one of the standards applied to gasoline quality, and is an indicator of the propensity of the fuel to evaporate, thereby emitting Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that contribute to ozone formation. RVP is measured in pounds per square inch (psi), and the lower the psi, the fewer evaporative emissions.
Federal regulations require use of lower RVP gasoline in hot summer months to reduce VOCs emissions. Delivering gasoline with the correct RVP is a task of the refinery.
Under normal circumstances at this time of year, the metropolitan and high-ozone areas of Louisiana and Florida are required to use gasoline with an RVP of 7.8. Alabama high-ozone areas (including Birmingham) are required to use gasoline with an RVP of 7.0. All other areas in those states—and the entire state of Mississippi—are to use gasoline with an RVP of 9.0.
Further, because of the expected shortage of motor vehicle diesel fuel meeting the 500 parts per million (ppm) sulfur standard, EPA will temporarily allow regulated parties to supply motor vehicle diesel fuel to affected states having a sulfur content greater than 500 ppm.
The waiver is effective immediately and will continue through the remainder of the high-ozone period, through Sept. 15, 2005. However, retail outlets or wholesale purchaser-consumers that receive motor vehicle diesel fuel having a sulfur content greater than 500 ppm, under the terms of this waiver may continue selling or dispensing this fuel after Sept. 15, 2005, until supplies are depleted.