The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently approved request for an emergency fuel waiver for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler approved the waiver on Thursday May 30, 2019, one day after receiving the request. The emergency fuel waiver was submitted after damage to the Buckeye Laurel Pipeline created a supply shortage of 7.8 psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) in Allegheny County. Low RVP gasoline in Western Pennsylvania is typically supplied from refineries on the East Coast and the Laurel Pipeline disruption has effectively cutoff the supply.
The Laurel Pipeline, which has operated since 1957, runs east-to-west across the state of Pennsylvania, delivering gasoline, diesel and heating fuels from the Philadelphia refineries to central and western Pennsylvania. Laurel Pipe Line Co., a subsidiary of Buckeye Partners LP based in Houston, TX, owns and operates the pipeline. Over the past few years, Laurel Pipe Line Co has been petitioning to change the direction of the pipeline to run west-to-east. Local gasoline retailers such as GetGo and Sheetz have been fighting against Laurel Pipe Line Co. on the reversal since this first began last June. The local retailers fear that the pipeline reversal will reduce competition, eliminate jobs in the area and drive up pump prices. The retailers have won the initial fight as the Public Utility Commission (PUC) decided to block Laurel Pipe Line Co. from a full reversal.