Katrina prompts suspension of fuel rules

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The federal government announced a temporary and limited lifting of fuel specifications nationwide because of supply disruptions created by Hurricane Katrina.

Stephen Johnson, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, announced Wednesday, Aug. 31 that he was exercising his authority under the Clean Air Act to temporarily waive volatility and sulfur standards because of the natural disaster.

“Yesterday afternoon I exercised this authority with respect to four states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida,” Johnson said. “It has become clear that the consequences of the hurricane have become more widespread.”

Effective through Thursday, Sept. 15, the waivers apply only to sulfur level and to volatility standards, affecting the rate at which fuel evaporates.

The Bush administration also announced plans to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help offset the shortage. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said crude oil from the reserve would become available as early as Thursday, Sept. 1.