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The Environmental Protection Agency has temporarily waived air pollution rules in Georgia and Virginia as Hurricane Florence approaches the coast and locals’ preparations for the landfall cause a decline in fuel supply.
Reuters quotes the EPA as saying “extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances exist in portions of Virginia and Georgia as a result of the approaching hurricane,” motivated the rules waiver. It came a day after the agency granted the same waiver to North and South Carolina.
As it did for South and North Carolina, the EPA waived federal requirements about gasoline volatility—the Reid vapor pressure requirements—until September 15. Other rules, regarding reformulated gasoline and reformulated gasoline stock blending have been waived until the end of the month.
The authority also warned against fuel retailers hiking prices at the pump too much, but even so, gas prices on the U.S. East Coast are surging this week ahead of and during Hurricane Florence’s landfall, as residents have started to evacuate from the Carolinas and Virginia, for which U.S. President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency.
“A storm like this typically causes an increase in fuel purchases in the market and a slowdown in retail demand. Motorists can expect spikes in pump prices to be brief, but possibly dramatic,” Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia ordered mandatory evacuation in areas of their states earlier this week. The evacuation concerns more than a million people. Coastal residents have already started leaving the shores to head west inland, but many are finding empty gas pumps as gasoline stations are sold out of gas.
Florence is expected to make landfall in North Carolina late today or tomorrow, according to the national Hurricane Center. Afterwards, it may drift along the coast to the southwest and then move inland.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.