The Environmental Protection Agency has temporarily lifted a federal rule on 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 to the reasonable supply of gasoline to consumers.”
The waiver eliminates a clear air act requirement, which reduces volatility. Gasoline is sold in states during the summer months to limit ozone pollution. It is valid until September 15, said the EPA.
BP said its refinery in Whiting, Indiana, experienced an electrical fire Wednesday. No one was hurt, and the fire was put out, but it caused a loss of utilities in other parts of the refinery, forcing at least a partial shutdown. The refinery is located along Lake Michigan’s shoreline about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of Chicago, according to the company.
The company said Sunday it is working toward a “phased restart of the refinery,” but no date was given.
Governors in all four states requested the EPA waivers, according to the EPA’s letter. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office said the refinery provides about 20% to 25% 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 can restart.