Governor Rendell Asks Bush Administration for Waivers to Ease Philadelphia-Area Gasoline Shortage

    HARRISBURG, Pa., April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Prompted by gasoline supply
 shortages in the five-county Philadelphia area (Bucks, Chester, Delaware,
 Montgomery and Philadelphia counties), Governor Edward G. Rendell today
 requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issue a temporary
 waiver that would allow gasoline suppliers to sell fuel that does not meet
 federal Clean Air Act reformulated gasoline guidelines.
     "We have information indicating that a major gasoline supplier in the
 Philadelphia area is reporting more than 160 'delivery-needed' alarms, and
 many more fuel outlets reporting that supplies are nearly exhausted,"
 Governor Rendell wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Steven L. Johnson.
 "In light of the circumstances, the requested [waiver] is clearly necessary
 to serve the public interest."
     The gasoline shortages apparently have been caused by problems
 associated with terminals making the switch between "winterblend" gasoline
 and reformulated blends that help curb summertime ground-level ozone
 pollution. In addition, refiners have precipitously stopped using the
 octane enhancer methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether (MTBE) exacerbating fuel
 shortage problems since MTBE had constituted about 10 percent of gasoline.
     "A short waiver will protect the public without meaningfully polluting
 the air. We need the federal government to act to help get us through what
 otherwise will be a very difficult situation," said Governor Rendell.
     Three major petroleum refineries in the Philadelphia area refine almost
 700,000 barrels of crude oil daily into gasoline, diesel fuel, and home
 heating oil, not only for the commonwealth, but also for the entire East
 Coast.
     The 1990 federal Clean Air Act amendments created the federal
 reformulated gasoline program in order to improve air quality in the
 nation's worst ozone nonattainment areas. The federal program requires
 specially formulated gasoline blends that ensure significant reductions of
 ground-level ozone forming pollution when it is used in our vehicles.
     In Pennsylvania, the reformulated gasoline program is federally
 mandated in the city of Philadelphia and in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and
 Montgomery and counties. These counties were originally designated as a
 "severe" nonattainment area for the old one-hour ozone national ambient air
 quality standard and are currently in "moderate" nonattainment for the new
 eight-hour ozone standard.
     The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public
 education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing
 economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out
 more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly
 newsletter, visit his Web site at: htpp://www.governor.state.pa.us.
     EDITOR'S NOTE: A copy of Governor Rendell's letter to EPA Administrator
 Johnson is attached
     The Honorable Steven L. Johnson
     Administrator
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
     Ariel Rios Building, 1101A
     1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
     Washington, DC  20460
 
     Dear Administrator Johnson:
     I am writing to respectfully request that the U.S. Environmental
 Protection Agency (EPA) issue a "No Action Assurance" for the Reformulated
 Gasoline (RFG) requirements in the five-county Philadelphia area for two
 weeks or until such time as adequate supplies of complying gasoline are
 assured in the area. Given the information we have received to date on the
 impacts in Pennsylvania of the transition from "winterblend" gasoline to
 RFG and the rapid phase-out of methyl-tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) by
 refiners, we believe that the "No Action Assurance" is necessary to curtail
 and/or avoid temporary supply disruptions, fuel shortages, and their
 concomitant impact on consumers, refiners and the economy."
     The five-county Philadelphia region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware,
 Montgomery and Philadelphia counties) of Pennsylvania comprise an area
 designated by the EPA as in nonattainment of the eight-hour ozone National
 Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). Consequently, use of RFG is mandated
 as an effective means to help achieve the health-based ozone NAAQS. Three
 major petroleum refineries in the Philadelphia area refine almost 700,000
 barrels of crude oil daily into gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil,
 not only for the Commonwealth, but also for the entire Eastern coast of the
 United States. The Commonwealth believes that a "No Action Assurance"
 issued by EPA for the RFG program in the five-county Philadelphia area will
 allow Pennsylvania refineries, terminals and distributors the flexibility
 to provide critical fuels for suppliers unable to receive sufficient fuel
 during the critical transition substituting ethanol for MTBE, as prescribed
 under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
     We have information indicating that a major gasoline supplier in the
 Philadelphia area is reporting more than 160 delivery-needed alarms, and
 many more fuel outlets reporting that supplies are nearly exhausted. In
 light of the circumstances, the requested assurance is "clearly necessary
 to serve the public interest." Thank you for your immediate attention to
 this pressing matter. If you have additional questions about the effects of
 the fuel situation on Pennsylvania, please feel free to contact Dan
 Desmond, Deputy Secretary, Office of Energy and Technology Deployment, by
 phone at 717-783-0540 or by e-mail at ddesmond@state.pa.us, or Tom Fidler,
 Deputy Secretary, Waste, Air and Radiation Management, by phone
 717-772-2725 or by e-mail tfidler@state.pa.us.
     Sincerely,
 
     Edward G. Rendell
     Governor
 
     Cc: Deb Failor
 
 
     CONTACT: Kate Philips
              717-783-1116
 
 

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

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