New state rule should ease gasoline shortages - Florida Politics

New state rule should ease gasoline shortages

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, state officials issued an emergency rule Thursday allowing fuel from other parts of the country with a different chemical make-up to be sold in Florida.

The new regulation will allow more and different kinds of gas to be sold, in reaction to the diminishing supply caused by Hurricane—now Tropical Storm—Harvey, which shut down refineries along the Gulf coast.

Specifically, it lets gasoline retailers sell fuel that is higher in “volatility,” meaning it combusts more easily in a cold engine.

That’s more important up North on a chilly day, making it easier for cars to start. But often in Florida, fuel sold is of a lower volatility, because of our warmer climes.

Now, gas originally meant for northern states can be sold in Florida and some still-open refineries can focus on making the one type of high-volatility gasoline.

AAA-The Auto Club Group said Monday “one out of every five barrels of gasoline produced in the United States has been threatened by Hurricane Harvey,” and “more than a quarter of refining capacity in the U.S. Gulf Coast was offline.”

Florida gas prices averaged $2.31 on Sunday,” the group said. “The state average is 6 cents more than this time last week.”

The rule says waiving volatility standards “will allow for adequate and rapid distribution of available fuel, helping to stabilize the fuel market, thus protecting the welfare of Florida consumers.”

The rule “was initiated at the request of fuel suppliers to more adequately meet the fuel needs of Florida consumers, as a result of projected fuel shortages created by Hurricane Harvey, which has disrupted import of fuels from the affected area of the Gulf coast which supplies the majority of the state,” it says.

“This emergency rule will help alleviate present distribution difficulties and shortages of motor fuel resulting from this event to provide relief to affected Florida.”

The rule is in effect statewide till Sept. 15.

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.
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