BREAKING – The Department of Transportation declared a regional emergency Saturday affecting four Midwest states after a fire earlier this week caused an “unanticipated shutdown” of a BP oil refinery in Indiana, The Daily Wire reports.
BP Whiting, the sixth largest refinery in the U.S. refining over 400,000 barrels of oil per day, shut down to undergo damage assessment after a fire knocked out the plant’s electrical power and cooling water systems on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
The shutdown caused the federal government to take action and address the looming shortage of fuel output that will affect Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, states that collectively receive up to 25% of their fuel from the Whiting refinery.
The timing for the refinery’s restart remains unknown as all of the refinery’s units will have to be checked for damage following the sudden loss of electrical power on Wednesday afternoon, the sources said.
BP spokesperson Christina Audisho said on Friday the refinery is “continuing to assess when a restart of the affected units can take place.”
Following the assessment, any damage found will have to be repaired.
A few of the refinery’s units have been on cold circulation since, but will require being heated to operating temperatures that can reach 1,000 Fahrenheit (538 Celsius), the sources said.
The Whiting refinery outage sent Chicago CBOB gasoline up 30.5 cents a gallon on Thursday and ultra-low sulfur diesel up 17 cents.
From The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations (FMCSA):
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced today as part of the federal government’s response to the shutdown of the BP Whiting refinery, that the USDOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking steps to create more flexibility for motor carriers and drivers. FMCSA is issuing a temporary hours of service exemption that applies to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
USDOT’s top priority is safety, and while current circumstances dictate providing industry flexibility, FMCSA has notified and will work closely with its state and industry partners to monitor driver work hours and conditions for the duration of the exemption.
In accordance with the provisions of 49 CFR § 390.23, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations (FMCSA) hereby declares that an emergency exists that warrants issuance of a Regional Emergency Declaration for emergency relief from certain regulations in 49 CFR Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety (FMCSRs) except as otherwise restricted in this Emergency Declaration.
Such emergency is in response to the unanticipated shutdown of the BP Whiting refinery as a result of a fire on August 24, 2022 that affects the supply of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel throughout the Affected States.
This Declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel and provides necessary relief. Affected States included in this Emergency Declaration (“Affected States”) are: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
By execution of this Emergency Declaration, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency in the Affected States in direct support of relief efforts related to the shortages of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel due to the fire at the BP Whiting refinery are granted relief from 49 CFR § 395.3, maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles, subject to the restrictions and conditions set forth herein. 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.1
Emergency Declaration Restrictions & Conditions
By execution of this Emergency Declaration No. 2022-011, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency as set forth herein are granted emergency relief from 49 CFR § 395.3, maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles, subject to the following restrictions and conditions:
Nothing in this Emergency Declaration shall be construed as a waiver of or exemption from any applicable requirements or any portion of the FMCSRs or other regulations for which relief is not specifically granted herein.
Motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by this Emergency Declaration until they have met the applicable conditions for its rescission and the order has been rescinded in writing by the issuing jurisdiction.
This Emergency Declaration provides for regulatory relief from 49 CFR § 395.3 for commercial motor vehicle operations while providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts. Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the emergency as set forth in this Emergency Declaration, or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce. (49 CFR § 390.23(b)).
Upon termination of direct assistance to emergency relief efforts related to the emergency as set forth in this Emergency Declaration, the motor carrier and driver are subject to the requirements of 49 CFR § 395.3 while operating commercial motor vehicles, except that a driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location without complying with 49 CFR § 395.3, except as noted herein.
When a driver is moving from emergency relief efforts to normal operations, a 10-hour break is required when the total time a driver is engaged in emergency relief efforts, or in a combination of emergency relief and normal operations, equals or exceeds 14 hours.
In accordance with 49 CFR § 390.23, this Emergency Declaration is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until the end of the emergency (as defined in 49 CFR § 390.5T) or until 11:59 P.M. (ET), September 10, 2022, whichever is earlier. FMCSA intends to continually review the status of this Emergency Declaration and may take action to extend, modify or terminate the Emergency Declaration if conditions warrant.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) responded to the refinery’s shutdown by issuing an executive order that lifts some requirements for fuel transporters and “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.”
Following the BP oil refinery fire, I’m taking proactive steps to free up more gas supply and remove impediments to gas delivery for Michiganders. The goal of today’s action is to get families the fuel they need to get around and help businesses keep their products moving.— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) August 27, 2022
Whitmer’s order lasts for the duration of the emergency or until September 15. “The impacts of the outage at the Whiting facility will be widespread across our region, and I am taking proactive steps to help Michiganders get the fuel they need to drive their cars and help businesses keep their products moving,” the governor said.
The shutdown of one of the largest refineries in the Midwest comes as farmers are beginning fall harvest across the northern central states.
It seems that we just can’t catch a break.
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