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President Bush Extends EPA Waivers, Calls for More Refineries

In discussing the impact of Hurricane Rita on the gasoline and energy supply, President Bush said he has instructed the EPA to keep the clean-fuel waivers in place issued in response to Katrina (earlier post), and well as for continuance of the waiver of the Jones Act restrictions on fuel transportation.

He also called for being “better conservers” of energy by reducing non-essential travel, and for the creation of additional refining capacity in the US.

We have suspended certain EPA winter blend rules so that it makes it easier to import gasoline from overseas. In other words, there’s a supply of gasoline in Europe, and by suspending these rules, it’s a lot more likely to be able to get gasoline into our markets. And so while there’s a shortfall because of down refining capacity, we will work with -- we have instructed EPA to leave the rules in place, or to suspend the rules that were in place, keep the suspension in place, which would make it easier to increase supply, and continue to get supply of gasoline here. And that’s important for our consumers to know.

[...] Let me repeat, we’ll use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help refineries with crude oil. We will continue the waivers to allow the winter blends of fuel to be used throughout the country. We will continue to waiver that -- to allow broader use of diesel fuel. Because we understand there’s been a disruption in supply and we want to make sure that we do everything we can to help with the supply disruption.

The Homeland Security waived the Jones Act on restrictions on fuel transportation. We’re allowing foreign flag ships to temporarily transport fuel from one U.S. port to another. That’s going to be important for expediting supply to deal with bottlenecks. We will continue that waiver. The Treasury and IRS announced that dyed diesel fuel for off-road use would be allowed on on-road use without penalty. In other words, we’re taking action to help deal with the shortfall caused by Katrina and Rita.

Two other points I want to make is, one, we can all pitch in by using -- by being better conservers of energy. I mean, people just need to recognize that the storms have caused disruption and that if they’re able to maybe not drive when they -- on a trip that’s not essential, that would helpful. The federal government can help, and I’ve directed the federal agencies nationwide -- and here’s some ways we can help. We can curtail nonessential travel. If it makes sense for the citizen out there to curtail nonessential travel, it darn sure makes sense for federal employees. We can encourage employees to carpool or use mass transit. And we can shift peak electricity use to off-peak hours. There’s ways for the federal government to lead when it comes to conservation.

And, finally, these storms show that we need additional capacity in -- we need additional refining capacity, for example, to be able to meet the needs of the American people. The storms have shown how fragile the balance is between supply and demand in America. I’ve often said one of the worst problems we have is that we’re dependent on foreign sources of crude oil, and we are. But it’s clear, as well, that we’re also really dependent on the capacity of our country to refine product, and we need more refining capacity. And I look forward to working with Congress, as we analyze the energy situation, to expedite the capacity of our refiners to expand and/or build new refineries.

One immediate possible policy action in response to the disruptions caused by the hurricanes as well as the general energy situation not discussed was the re-instatement of the 55 mph speed limit. Originally imposed in response to the oil crises of three decades ago., the 55 mph speed limit conserved some 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel in 1983, according to estimates by the NRDC.

That figure works out to some 163,000 barrels of product per day—the output of a mid-size refinery.



Lip service to conservation, all the while taking advantage of the tragedy to suspend environmental regulations. BushCo isn't interested in stretching the available supply further -- they're interested in increasing supply.

So, sensible legislation and executive action (reduce speed limits to 55mph if only for a while, improve CAFE standards, further subsidize renewable gasoline substitutes, etc) simply won't happen until Democrats regain control, and even with Dems I wouldn't hold my breath.


Did he mean to say that DYED diesel fuel for off-road use is LEGAL for on-raod sale EVERYWHERE in the USA? Or just the states that have been hit by the hurricanes?


"so sensible legislation and executive action (reduce speed limits to 55... won't happen until Dems regain control..."

The Dems had control of the house and senate for almost 40 years until the Reps were swept in in 1994. The last President to call for reduced speed limits was Richard Nixon (R) in 1973, who called for 55 mph national speed limit, and a reduction of winter thermostats to 68 degrees do to the Arab oil embargo. Additionally, the Dem controlled congress signed legislation calling for the trans-Alaskan pipeline in spite of environmentalists claims that the pipeline could be harmful to wildlife.


The EPA waivers on dyed, off-road diesel sales for on-road use apply to 25 states plus the District of Columbia. (Map) They were set to expire 5 Oct.


The reason they dont change speed limits is that would force the change of millions of signs at a cost of about a billion dollars. It would also kill about 10000 poeple who would either A not know about the change and rear end people or be rear ended. Or B kill people in states where the speed limit was increased to get people down LONG roads before the effect of driving say 5-6 hours down a road that never changes mesmerizes them.

On top of that the change wouldnt go into effect anyway until long after the crisis is over.

John McConnell

Lower speed limits save lives and greatly reduce global warming impact -- those are facts. Business wants a higher speed limit to more quickly get product to consumers. Republicans pushed through a higher speed limit during the Clinton administration because people should have the freedom to drive how ever fast they want without regard for the environment. If that change hadn't happened we would surely be saving millions upon millions of gallons of gas per year.


This means that anyone who has a diesel vehicle and heats with fuel oil (or knows someone who does and is willing to sell oil) can drive on un-taxed fuel.


The reason they dont change speed limits is that would force the change of millions of signs at a cost of about a billion dollars. It would also kill about 10000 poeple who would either A not know about the change and rear end people or be rear ended. Or B kill people in states where the speed limit was increased to get people down LONG roads before the effect of driving say 5-6 hours down a road that never changes mesmerizes them.

On top of that the change wouldnt go into effect anyway until long after the crisis is over.

Bullcrap all around. As for the cost, I'm skeptical about the $1B pricetag considering the entire Interstate system cost $114B to build. Additionally, since signs are maintained and replaced over time, the cost is somewhat ammortized. If the states found enough money to change the signs from 55 to 65, and then 70 and 75 during the mid 80s through the 90s, they can find the money to change them back. Hell, maybe they still have a bunch of them!

Your argument (A) is just plain stupid. If the change was made, it wouldn't be some secret middle-of-the-night change. Much would be made of the change in the media, and the signs would be changed along entire portions of the road at the same time -- and people would notice the new signs. Additionally, towns and states might also jump at the opportunity for increased ticketing revenue. Your argument (B) is wrong as well. The US Highway data clearly shows that even in the long stretches of straight highway in the west, the rate of accidents and the rate of fatalities (therefore accounting for an increased number of vehicles) increased when the speed limits were increased, even though the more recent vehicles were safer by NHTSA's standards (airbags, crumple zones, etc).

The change could begin to go into effect (in phases) by November 1 if Congress cared to make it happen. Is that "in time"? Hard to say. We're still in hurricane season now, and there'll certainly be more in time for next year.

So, you're just spouting crud.

P.S. George: You conveniently left off the last part of my quote -- you know, the one where I pointed out that giving the Dems a change at the legislation might not help either. Nevermind that it was the GOP Congress that increased the speed limits to 65 and that GOP-leaning states have increased to 70, 75, and 80 far more frequently than blue states have.


Lower speed limits cause more accidents. When the national 55mph speed limit was repealed the death rate on US highways went down. The problem with speed limits is not everyone obeys them especially on the open road. The lower the speed limit the higher the speed differential between people that obey and don't obey the law, hence higher impact speeds between cars. The worst case of this can be found in the car pool lane when all other lanes of traffic are stop and go. In this situation the speed differential can be more than 50mph when somebody cuts you off.

Look at Germany. They have some of the highest average traffic speed in the world including areas with speed limits yet they consistently have the lowest highway mortality rate. Driver education and safety built into the roads has everything to do with it.


Why doesn't Bush set the example by switching his armored Suburbans to run on B20 or E85?


The conservative think tanks (Cato et al) claim that the double nickle didn't increase safety. There Minnesota professors disagree. They claim that a Michigan study resulted in statistically significant increases in deaths, number of accidents, and number of injuries.

There's clear disagreement about whether or not the 55 limit reduces or increases accidents. There's no disagreement on fuel efficiency though.


So let me get this straight...after decades of ripping up streetcars, gutting mass transit, pursuing suburban sprawl/strip mall development at any cost, and paving
over farmland and open space to create vast parking lots, all of a sudden its in vogue to conserve, carpool, and limit discretionary trips.

What visionaries we have leading us!


I call bullshit when 55 was repealed the accident and death rates went down thats a solid FACT.

Also the interstate does not cost 114 billion. The ORIGINAL cost of putting in the first part of it cost far more then that in 2005 dollars. By now the entire interstate costs about 10-20 trillion or more. Just the smalla ddons they do every so many years costs something like 15 or more billion a year and has done so for decades.

And yes it would catch people by surprise so did the speed increase and so did the time they put in the double nickel law way back.


Bush can start conserving by getting rid of all those Suburbans that cart the fat asses in the White House around, canceling all this trips to the gulf coast, canceling all future vacations, canceling Cheney's vacations and trips, reinstalling solar panels in the White House, turning his thermostat up now and down later, requiring all White House employees to take mass transit, lowering the speed limit, raising gas taxes, raising CAFE standards, raising the subsidy for solar energy and other alternatives, canceling all subsidies for fossil fuels, etc. etc. etc.

Instead, we are just told to conserve by driving wisely and taking less trips. We might as well just abolish the Department of Energy.

All of the sudden we need to be "conservers".

Bush sees all this as just a temporary problem. We can conserve for a few months and then go back to business as usual. He either doesn't know the truth or reuses to tell us the truth. Either way, he needs to resign.


Re: changing speed limit signs - I'm sure a bunch of taggers (graffiti "artists") would jump at the chance to change them! No cost to the taxpayer, but maybe some more imaginative designs than what we're used to seeing.


The problem with a Bush resignation is that Dick Cheney would still be in charge.

Tripp Bishop

Actually, it should be noted that Cheney is doing his part to conserve. He lives in a hole far below the Adirondack mountains. He is, after all, the second LEAST travelled VP in the history of our great nation. I think maybe Polk's VP (whoever the hell that was) was less travelled.



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