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Diesel Fuel and Gasoline Distribution Severely Disrupted By Hurricane Sandy; DEP, Ag Announce Fuel Waivers for ULSD, B2 blends

Hurricane Sandy forced the closure of two-thirds of the refineries in the Northeastern U.S., its largest pipeline and most major ports making it very difficult to ship in supplies of diesel fuel and gasoline for the region. State and federal government agencies responded to fuel shortages by taking action on existingfuel rules and requirements.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a temporary waiver from clean diesel fuel standards for New York and Pennsylvania to allow more flexibility in the sources supplying diesel fuel for the region. EPA also authorized the release of heating oil from the northeast heating oil reserve tu supplement diesel supplies for emergency equipment and generators. 

DEP requested, and the EPA approved a waiver of the federal requirement for Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel in diesel equipment used in emergency response and recovery efforts, as well as non-road generators and pumps.

The Department of Agriculture also granted a waiver for a temporary suspension of Pennsylvania’s two-percent biodiesel content requirement for on-road diesel fuel. The suspension will be in effect until midnight on Thursday, November 12.

“Hurricane Sandy has impacted the supply and demand of diesel fuel,” Agriculture Secretary George Greig said. “Temporarily lifting this requirement will keep trucks on the road and allow food and materials to get to Pennsylvanians who are in need due to power outages.”

Retailers may accept diesel fuel that is not compliant with the mandate and sell it to consumers through November 12. Diesel fuel supplies that meet the two-percent requirement may continue to be sold.  The request for the biodiesel waiver originated with Sheetz, Inc. and the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association.

“Because of the widespread effects of Hurricane Sandy, there is an insufficient amount of this fuel in Pennsylvania,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “These waivers are necessary to avoid fuel disruptions and continue everyone’s ongoing storm recovery efforts.”

With these waivers, the use of heating oil in diesel-powered, on-road vehicles involved in emergency response efforts in Pennsylvania will be allowed with DEP approval. The waivers would also allow the use of heating oil supplies for generators and other off-road equipment. DEP approval is not required for that use.  The waivers expire at midnight on November 12.