OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Gas shortages likely to linger for days | Biden administration issues second shipping waiver amid fuel shortages | EPA orders St. Croix refinery to shut down for 60 days due to 'imminent threat' to islanders' health

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Gas shortages likely to linger for days | Biden administration issues second shipping waiver amid fuel shortages | EPA orders St. Croix refinery to shut down for 60 days due to 'imminent threat' to islanders' health

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The Colonial pipeline is fully operational again but there’s no telling when the gas market will be back to normal, plus another Jones Act waiver and the EPA takes action on a controversial St. Croix oil refinery.

THE BIG SHORT: Gas shortages likely to linger for days

Gas shortages in the Southeast are likely to linger for several days as a result of panic buying sparked by the recent outage of the Colonial Pipeline. 

Analysts who spoke to The Hill said shortages could last for a few days or as long as two weeks in the hardest-hit parts of the country.

Severe shortages have been seen in states like North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, while 90 percent of stations in Washington, D.C., were also out of fuel for part of Friday, according to GasBuddy, a website that tracks gas prices using crowdsourced data.

As of Friday afternoon, 65 percent of stations in North Carolina, 48 percent of stations in South Carolina, 47 percent of stations in Georgia and 45 percent of stations in Virginia were dry, according to GasBuddy.

What’s the holdup?: Analysts said that the shortages were largely because of panic buying and hoarding that followed the shutdown, as panicked drivers purchased gas fearing a shortage. Some argued that it may take time for people to stop doing this, even though the pipeline has restarted. 

“The news has to percolate a bit that the pipeline’s back online before people can become more rational,” said Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis. 

Experts and organizations had somewhat varying estimates on how long this will take, but they all agreed it would be at least a few days. 

“We’re expecting [a return to normalcy] to take several days, at least through the weekend and the early part of next week,” Devin Gladden, a spokesperson for the American Automotive Association, told The Hill. “It’s still going to take a bit more time for things to get back to normal.”

Read more about the shortages here:

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES: Biden administration issues second shipping waiver amid fuel shortages

The Biden administration issued a second waiver Thursday evening that will make it easier to ship gasoline to the East Coast as shortages persist despite the Colonial Pipeline being back online.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas allowed for a “temporary and targeted” waiver for a second company, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson said in a statement late Thursday.

“This decision was made after careful consideration and consultation with interagency partners across the federal government as part of the whole-of-government response President Biden directed to address the impacts of the Colonial Pipeline shut down,” the spokesperson said.

The story so far: The move came a day after the first waiver was issued late Wednesday. DHS did not name either of the two companies receiving a waiver. The Hill has reached out for comment.

The waivers allow exceptions to the Jones Act, which typically requires products that are shipped between U.S. ports be transported by American vessels.

Read more about the waivers here:

KEPT AT BAY: EPA orders St. Croix refinery to shut down for 60 days due to 'imminent threat' to islanders' health

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday announced that it had ordered a U.S. Virgin Islands oil refinery to close for at least 60 days due to concerns that its operations were posing an “imminent risk to public health.” 

EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a press release unveiling the move said operations at Limetree Bay’s St. Croix refinery will be paused “until we can be assured that this facility can operate in accordance with laws that protect public health.” 

The refinery has been the subject of controversy in recent months after the Trump administration in December approved the plant’s reopening following a series of spills and accidents that resulted in $5 million in EPA fines and the plant's closure in 2012.

What’s the threat?: Since the refinery began operating again in February, it has showered oil on residents of the largely low-income community surrounding the refinery, as well as released sulfuric gases and hydrocarbons into the air, according to the EPA. 

The agency said that the air pollutants and oil releases have “sickened” many members of the St. Croix community. 

“These repeated incidents at the refinery have been and remain totally unacceptable,” Regan said Friday. 

“This already overburdened community has suffered through at least four recent incidents that have occurred at the facility, and each had an immediate and significant health impact on people and their property,” he added. “EPA will not hesitate to use its authority to enforce the law and protect people from dangerous pollution where they work, live, and play.”

Read more about the shutdown here:

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

On Wednesday:

  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is slated to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss both the department’s budget request and the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing titled “Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars and Corporate Welfare in the Oil and Gas Industry.” 
  • The House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on global climate finance, with several administration officials slated to appear.
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing to examine biodiversity loss.

On Thursday:

  • The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing to examine Federal, state, and private forestlands, focusing on opportunities for addressing climate change.
  • The House Climate Committee is having a hearing on investments to “modernize and expand” the electric grid.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Washington governor vetoes measure to end sale of new gas-powered cars by 2030, MyNorthWest reports.

Shell, Singapore university to work on $3.4 million decarbonization study, Reuters reports.

Biden contemplates a climate deal with the ‘Trump of the tropics’, Politico reports.

Michigan Line 5 opponents serve ‘eviction notice’ at Enbridge pumping station, Energy News Network reports.

Nevada Democrats unveil renewable energy infrastructure bill, The Associated Press reports.

ICYMI: Stories from Friday....

EPA orders St. Croix refinery to shut down for 60 days due to 'imminent threat' to islanders' health.

Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats.

Appeals court upholds verdict against Bayer on herbicide Roundup.

Oklahoma dam explosion kills two.

Biden administration issues second shipping waiver amid fuel shortages.


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