Cohen Secures EPA Waiver for Winter-Grade Fuel to be Sold in Shelby County

August 11, 2011
Press Release

MEMPHIS, TN – Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-9) today announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted a waiver until August 31 to allow winter-grade fuel to be sold in Shelby County in the wake of the Valero refinery explosion, which has created a reduced fuel supply throughout the region.  Yesterday the Congressman sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing his support for Governor Bill Haslam’s request for a waiver.  Attached is the letter EPA sent granting the waiver.

I applaud and thank Administrator Jackson and the EPA for acting swiftly and granting a waiver,” said Congressman Cohen.  “The Valero refinery explosion has created a dip in fuel supply, and the last thing we can afford in a blistering hot August is long lines at gas stations throughout Memphis.  Thanks to EPA’s responsiveness to the needs of Memphis, we have averted a major fuel supply problem.

The letter Congressman Cohen sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is below:

August 10, 2011

The Honorable Lisa Jackson

Administrator of EPA

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

I am writing to express my support for the State of Tennessee’s request for a waiver to sell gasoline with a higher Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) in Shelby County.  As a result of a fire last week at a Valero refining facility in my district, there is a shortage of fuel that meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) RVP regulations.  In light of this imminent shortage, I respectfully request that you grant the waiver.

Without a waiver from the EPA, my constituents will not have access to an adequate supply of gasoline.  Currently local refineries are completely out of 7.8 RVP gasoline.  And unfortunately we cannot easily source a steady supply of 7.8 RVP gasoline because Memphis is about two hundred miles from the nearest city with the same RVP standards.  Additionally, nearby cities do not have enough gasoline to supply the entire city.

With a metropolitan population of more than one million people and as one of the largest freight distribution hubs in America, Memphis relies upon a significant supply of gasoline.  Without a waiver from EPA, my constituents will struggle to get to their jobs, schools, and doctors.  Additionally since Memphis is a critical component of America’s freight transportation network, America’s economy will be slowed if a waiver is not granted.

As a dedicated environmentalist with a long history of fighting for clean air, I greatly appreciate and understand EPA’s work to regulate the vapor pressure of gasoline sold at retail stations during the summer ozone season.  However, my constituents and the American economy cannot suffer the consequences of a fuel shortage in Shelby County.  Thank you for your attention to this request.  I wholeheartedly appreciate your steadfast leadership and the EPA’s work to ensure that Americans have clean air and water. 

As always, I remain, 

Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen

Member of Congress