August 30, 2005

EPA eases fuel regulations for storm-hit states

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency said on Tuesday it temporarily eased green fuel
regulations for states hard-hit by Hurricane Katrina to prevent
gasoline and diesel shortages.

Prices of gasoline and diesel have skyrocketed since the
powerful storm slammed into the Gulf Coast on Monday, forcing
shut nine refineries, closing major fuel pipelines and cutting
nearly all oil production offshore.

The fuel waiver for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and
Mississippi will allow fuel suppliers to sell gasoline that has
a higher Reid Vapor Pressure and diesel that has higher sulfur
content than normally allowed.

Wholesale gasoline prices soared Tuesday above $3 a gallon
in the Gulf Coast region, spelling much higher prices at the
pumps in days to come. The national average pump price is
around $2.60 a gallon.

This is "a natural disaster, that could not reasonably have
been foreseen or prevented and not attributable to a lack of
prudent planning on the part of the suppliers of the fuel to
these affected States," the EPA said in a release.

The waiver will temporarily allow refiners to supply
gasoline meeting a Reid Vapor Pressure standard of 9.0 and
diesel with sulfur content higher than 500 parts per million.

This waiver is effective until September 15.