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EPA Forced to Make Emergency Move After Refinery Fire Threatens Price of Gas in 4 States

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Damage from a fiery explosion at the largest refinery in the Midwest has resulted in the Environmental Protection Agency temporarily lifting a federal restriction on fuel sales in four states to prevent supply disruptions and further price increases.

According to The Associated Press, BP oil refinery told reporters that the refinery in Whiting, Indiana, experienced “an electrical fire” on Wednesday. While no one was injured and the fire was successfully extinguished, the facility along the Lake Michigan shoreline suffered damage that resulted in “a loss of utilities in other parts of the refinery” and necessitated a partial shutdown.

The fire reportedly began in the refinery’s powerhouse and led to a shutdown of the plant’s cooling system that could potentially damage equipment, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg also reported BP was forced to shut down two of its crude units at the 435,000 barrels per day refinery. The two units, Pipestill 12 and Pipestill 11A together process 325,000 barrels of crude per day or approximately 75 percent of the facility’s capacity.

WSBT-TV reported that the fire took approximately two hours to put out and that one person was taken to the hospital and released.

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The EPA has since granted an emergency waiver for the states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin per EPA Administrator Michael Regan, according to the AP.

Reagan told state officials the EPA determined this action to be necessary “to minimize or prevent disruption of an adequate supply of gasoline to consumers.”

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The emergency waiver issued by Reagan suspended the provisions of the Clean Air Act requiring that only lower-volatility gasoline may be sold during summer months in order to limit pollutants that could be damaging to the ozone layer.

Reportedly, the governors of the four states petitioned the EPA for the waivers. The AP specified that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office argued the BP refinery in Whiting produces approximately “20 to 25 percent of the gasoline, jet fuel and diesel used by Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.”

Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy reported via Twitter, “Michigan’s Governor today declared an energy emergency and USDOT is waiving trucker hours in MI, IN, IL, and WI due to BP’s Whiting, IN refinery being shut down due to a fire”

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According to Reuters, BP told reporters on Monday that it is making “significant progress” toward a phased restart of the refinery.

“We are working with our partners to secure fuel for the Midwest region,” the company said, adding that it is making progress in restoring the utilities needed to bring the refinery back to normal operations.

By capacity, the BP Whiting facility is the sixth-largest in the United States, per the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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