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EPA Relaxes Summer Gasoline Rules After ILTA, Others Make Request

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on March 27 relaxed rules for summer gasoline standards to allow for sales of winter-grade gasoline at least through May 20 to account for a glut of the fuel amid plunging demand as U.S. drivers stay home.

Gasoline volatility rules require fuel suppliers to switch from winter grades to lower-volatility summer grades May 1. More than a dozen states asked EPA to waive the standards to allow distributors to work through excess winter-spec fuel still in storage.

"By waiving the low volatility and blending limitations through May 20, EPA will ensure a steady supply of gasoline," EPA said in a statement. "EPA will continue to monitor the adequacy of gasoline supplies and, should conditions warrant, may modify or extend this waiver at a later date." 

ILTA was one of several industry groups that had asked EPA to make such a move. The coronavirus pandemic “is having an unprecedented impact on outbound movements of gasoline from petroleum products terminals such that our members are becoming concerned they will be unable to accomplish the turnover of their gasoline tanks from winter to summer gasoline by the 40 CFR 80.27 May 1 deadline for doing so,” ILTA said in the March 20 letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “…[W]hile we are still more than a month from the May 1 deadline, a decision is needed from EPA now to allow the supply chain to work as it should. Our members will work diligently to make the turnover from winter to summer gasoline as quickly as possible under the current unprecedented conditions.” 

The agency also said it planned to give small refineries more time to meet the US biofuel mandate, but it gave no other details.

EPA said in the same statement that it does not plan to "revisit or rescind" any past waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard despite a recent court order challenging the Trump administration's widespread use of the exemptions.

The agency added that it plans to extend the RFS compliance deadline for small refineries "to provide them with additional flexibility," but it gave no other details.

EPA said the actions fit with the agency's current focus to protect employees and ensure public health during the coronavirus pandemic. "Therefore, investigating and initiating enforcement actions against small refineries that were previously subject to an exemption is a low priority for the agency," it said.



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