The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved Florida's and North Carolina's requests to allow certain counties in those states to continue using 9 RVP gasoline through the traditional VOC reduction season.
EPA regulates gasoline volatility, measured by Reid Vapor Pressure, between June 1 and September 15. For refiners and terminals, this period shifts to May 1 through September 15.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed March 19 the unofficial document detailing the action and the agency has submitted the document for publication in the Federal Register.
The document shows EPA will allow the use of 9 RVP gasoline in six Florida counties -- Broward, Dale, Duval, Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Pinella -- and counties in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point areas in North Carolina.
Previously these regions in Florida and North Carolina were under a mandate to use 7.8 RVP gasoline between June 1 and September 15.
The rule is expected to go into effect without further notice, unless the agency receives adverse comments within 30 days of Federal Register publication.
"The EPA is making these revisions without prior proposal because the agency views these revisions as noncontroversial and anticipates no adverse comment," according to a document published on the agency's website.
But it was not immediately clear when, exactly, the rule will be published in the Federal Register to trigger the comment period.
According to one trader with a strong presence in Florida, "if no comments are made, then it will have to get published and that could take some time. Once it gets published, it takes another 21 days to go into effect."
But since it was signed last week, it has to go through a period of 60 days for comments, before final publication to take effect.
Given this lead time, there is some uncertainty in the marketplace about whether the rule will take effect this year or be pushed back to next year.
Suppliers at the terminal level generally have to meet RVP requirements typically a month before requirements kick in at that retail level, around June 1.
Florida is primarily a blendstock market, in that it is supplied with suboctane CBOB gasoline formulations, which then are blended with ethanol before final consumption.
The state gets most of its refined products through the Gulf Coast from barges and ships, since it lacks direct access to the bigger pipelines traversing the southeast, such as Colonial Pipeline and Kinder Morgan's Plantation Pipeline.
In the summer, Platts assesses 7.8 RVP CBOB and 7.8 RVP clear conventional gasoline grades that can ultimately serve these areas.
An EPA official listed as a contact for more information on this action was not immediately available.
A retail-level marketer in Florida said of the change, "in Florida in the fall, it's still hurricane season, so sometimes you can get caught there with supply issues as the tanks are transferred from summer gas to winter gas." Having 9 RVP as bottom would ensure steady supply, he said.