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New state rule should ease gas shortages

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, state officials issued an emergency rule Thursday allowing fuel from other parts of the country with a different chemical make-up to be sold in Florida.

The new regulation will allow more and different kinds of gas to be sold, in reaction to the diminishing supply caused by Hurricane—now Tropical Storm—Harvey, which shut down refineries along the Gulf coast.

Specifically, it lets gasoline retailers sell fuel that is higher in “volatility,” meaning it combusts more easily in a cold engine.

That’s more important up North on a chilly day, making it easier for cars to start. But often in Florida, fuel sold is of a lower volatility, because of our warmer climes.

Now, gas originally meant for northern states can be sold in Florida and some still-open refineries can focus on making the one type of high-volatility gasoline.

The rule says waiving volatility standards “will allow for adequate and rapid distribution of available fuel, helping to stabilize the fuel market, thus protecting the welfare of Florida consumers.”

The rule “was initiated at the request of fuel suppliers to more adequately meet the fuel needs of Florida consumers, as a result of projected fuel shortages created by Hurricane Harvey, which has disrupted import of fuels from the affected area of the Gulf coast which supplies the majority of the state,” it says.

“This emergency rule will help alleviate present distribution difficulties and shortages of motor fuel resulting from this event to provide relief to affected Florida.”

The rule is in effect statewide till Sept. 15.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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