The Environmental Protection Agency assured oil refiners, truckers, and others on Friday that they won't be fined for emission violations for helping move more gasoline to markets in hurricane-ravaged Florida and Texas where fuel shortages continue.
The EPA, at the states' request, issued three new "no action assurance" letters to refiners, fuel blenders and truckers that guarantee no punitive actions will be taken against them if they take specific measures to move more gasoline to market but violate air emission and pollution rules.
"Due to infrastructure damage, Florida [and Texas] refineries are unable to operate at full capacity, which is causing gasoline shortages," the agency said. "EPA will not pursue enforcement actions that relate to violations of provisions of the Clean Air Act for emissions of certain air pollutants from gasoline storage tanks during events known as 'roof landings.'"
The assurance will last until next Friday, extending a previous assurance that expired a week ago.
The facilities that fuel makers use to fill up tanker trucks to move gasoline to gas stations have been damaged due to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. The damage has led to their inability to reduce pollution, the agency said. Therefore, the EPA is extending assurances to those facilities.
"Due to operational issues at bulk fuel terminals ... some facilities are not equipped with devices to capture or recover certain types of air pollutants," EPA said. "EPA will not pursue enforcement actions that relate to violations of provisions of the Clean Air Act that require the operation of these devices at bulk fuel terminals."
EPA is also relaxing the regulatory burden for the tanker trucks themselves, which have to be registered under the Clean Air Act and state laws to move fuel. The agency and states are also relaxing rules that ensure fuel storage tanks don't leak, according to the EPA.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt late Thursday also extended a fuel waiver for diesel fuel in Florida, relaxing fuel blending standards that refiners have to follow. That will help speed the fuel to market. The waiver will be in effect until Oct. 6.