EPA waives fuel rule in 4 states after Indiana refinery fire

CHICAGO– The Environmental Protection Agency has temporarily lifted a federal rule for fuel sales in four states in response to a fire last week at an Indiana oil refinery that could affect prices and supply.

The emergency waiver was granted Saturday for Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said. In a letter to state officials, Regan said the agency determined the waiver was necessary “to minimize or prevent disruption of an adequate supply of gasoline to consumers.”

The waiver waives a Clear Air Act requirement that low-volatility gasoline be sold in states during the summer months to limit ozone pollution. It is in effect until September 15, the EPA said.

BP said its refinery in Whiting, Indiana suffered an electrical fire on Wednesday. No one was injured and the fire was extinguished, but it caused a loss of utilities in other parts of the refinery, forcing at least a partial shutdown. The refinery is located along the shores of Lake Michigan about 24 kilometers southeast of Chicago, according to the company.

The company said on Sunday it was working on a “gradual restart of the refinery,” but no date was given.

The governors of the four states requested the waivers from the EPA, according to the EPA letter. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office said the refinery supplies about 20 to 25 percent of the gasoline, jet fuel and diesel used by Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

BP spokeswoman Christina Audisho said the company was working with local and state agencies and was still assessing when affected units could restart.