Feds temporarily waive emissions standards

By Terry Scruton, "Land Line Now" senior correspondent | 9/1/2005

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued an emergency waiver of emission standards for both diesel and gasoline, effective immediately, as part of its response to the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

Through Sept. 15, retailers in all 50 states will be allowed to sell "wintertime gasoline," which has a higher volatility limit that "summer gasoline," which is traditionally sold at the pumps until September. In addition, retailers in all 50 states can also sell diesel that exceeds 500 ppm sulfur content.

The one exception may be California, which has higher diesel emission standards and is exempt from the national standards under the Clean Air Act.

Dimitri Stanich, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, told Land Line on Thursday, Sept. 1, that the board is currently reviewing the EPA's waiver and working to decide the best course of action at this time.

Stephen Johnson, EPA administrator, said in a news release that the action would help prevent serious fuel supply interruptions around the country.

The EPA first issued the waiver on Wednesday, Aug. 31, but at that time it only included Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Johnson said the national fuel situation is dire enough to expand the waiver to all states.

"It has become clear that the consequences of the hurricane have become more widespread," he said. "So I am sending letters to the governors of the remaining 46 states and territories providing temporary relief from volatility and sulfur standards. This action will result in a needed increase in fuel supply."