Federal regulators acted to ensure the supply of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel to four states over the weekend after the disruptive shutdown of the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, due to an Aug. 24 fire at the facility.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared a regional emergency and issued a temporary hours-of-service exemption that creates flexibility for motor carriers and drivers transporting fuel and other refined petroleum products to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
The emergency declaration will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept. 10, or the end of the emergency, FMCSA said.
“U.S. DOT’s top priority is safety, and while current circumstances dictate providing industry flexibility, FMCSA has notified and will work closely with its state and industry partners to monitor driver work hours and conditions for the duration of the exemption,” the agency said in a news release.
In addition, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Michael Regan issued an emergency fuel waiver to help alleviate fuel shortages in the affected states. The waiver, which will continue through Sept. 15, applies to State Implementation Plan requirements for fuel volatility on gasoline sold in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, EPA said.
As a result of the BP refinery shutdown, Regan “determined that extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances exist and has granted a temporary waiver to help ensure that an adequate supply of gasoline is available in the affected areas until normal supply to the region can be restored,” EPA explained in a statement.
FMCSA’s declaration provides relief from certain requirements in 49 CFR Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), specifically the maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles. Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration, FMCSA said.