The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an emergency declaration providing regulatory relief for certain fuel haulers following the unexpected closure of a major oil refinery in Indiana.
On August 24, 2022, a fire occurred at the BP oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana, resulting in a loss of the facility’s electrical power and cooling systems. No injuries were reported. The oil refinery provides about 435,000 barrels per day, providing 20% to 25% of the gas, jet fuel, and diesel fuel used in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office said that “while efforts are underway to find ways to replace the supply from the Whiting refinery, disruptions in the fuel supply are likely.”
The FMCSA responded by issuing a regional emergency declaration providing regulatory relief from 49 CFR § 395.3, maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles. The declaration applies to motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency in the affected states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin in direct support of relief efforts related to the shortages of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.
The FMCSA notes that “direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.”
The regulatory relief is valid through September 10, 2022, or the end of the fuel supply emergency, whichever comes first.
Additionally, Whitmer took the following actions to protect the fuel supply in the state of Michigan:
- Lifts Hours of Service Rules: exempts motor carriers and drivers transporting gas and diesel from compliance with the maximum weekly driving and on-duty limits, ensuring that these limits will not hinder the delivery of gas and diesel to stations in Michigan.
- Suspends Vapor Pressure Requirements: temporarily suspends certain laws and regulations to accelerate the transition to the fall fuel supply and takes advantage of existing stocks of fuel, contingent on the Environmental Protection Agency making similar changes.
GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan tweeted that “BP hoping to initiate restart at Whiting refinery Tue/Wed… products could start flowing by weekend if true.”