Hurricane Irene inflicted some damage on northeastern Pennsylvania, and Tropical Storm Lee compounded that damage by flooding even more areas. As damage estimates quickly approach the $50 million level, another issue that resulted from the series of bad weather was quickly handled by Gov. Tom Corbett and the Environmental Protection Agency. The regulation that requires a summer blend of gasoline be sold in the Pittsburgh area was lifted.
What does gasoline in Pittsburgh have to do with flooding on the other side of the state?
Flooding from Lee and Irene has caused fuel delivery delays to southwestern Pennsylvania. Those pipelines carry large amounts of fuel to the Pittsburgh region. In addition, Irene caused the shutdown of many pipelines and refineries that supply gas to western Pennsylvania. The summer blend of fuel is what retailers are required by law to sell, and is in short supply and could have run out. Since the conventional fuel is readily available, the state asked for a waiver from the EPA to sell that fuel to avoid additional difficulties.
Why is summer blend fuel required?
During the summer months in an effort to reduce emissions, the EPA requires the summer blend to keep those smog-creating chemicals at a minimum. Outside the Pittsburgh area, conventional fuel is available all year, but the city has a notorious air quality record that draws the attention of the EPA. The summer blend is required for the period of June 1 to Sept. 15, which means the date was drawing close anyway.
Has the waiver issue been raised before?
The issue of having the Pittsburgh area issued a waiver for use of conventional fuel versus summer blend was brought up earlier in the year. During that event, problems with the pipeline caused a minor gas shortage in the Pittsburgh area; however, a waiver was not granted in that case.
What counties are affected?
There are seven counties in the Pittsburgh area affected by the change in fuel: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland. The waiver should assure an adequate supply of gas for consumers.
Jason Gallagher is a long-time Pennsylvania resident. He has experiences in trends and developments in many regions from having lived in many parts of the Keystone State, and currently resides in the Pittsburgh area.