Athens: A week to wait on gas

24 09 2008

By Blake Aued  |  Athens Banner-Herald 

Plastic bags will continue to cover gas pumps in Athens and across the Southeast for another week, even as the federal government takes steps to ease gas shortages.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that North Georgia gas stations can sell ordinary gasoline through Oct.12 in addition to the cleaner-burning blend usually sold here.

“I don’t know that it’ll solve (the shortage), but it’ll certainly help somewhat,” said Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue.

In a letter to Perdue, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson acknowledged “acute shortages” of gas in Georgia due to refinery damage, and said waiving a low-sulfur fuel requirement will “minimize or prevent disruption of an adequate supply of gasoline in Georgia.”

The waiver is intended to alleviate shortages that have filling stations temporarily shutting down and some drivers panicking as the needle slips closer to “E.” But drivers may not see a difference for days.

Filling station owners don’t know when larger gas shipments might start arriving. Refineries only are shipping about a third of the gas they usually do, Golden Pantry President Brian Griffith said, and haven’t told station owners when that will change.

“We’re getting all the gas we can,” Griffith said. “As far as the EPA waiver … we have very limited information about when it’s going to get (to the pump).”

Gas supplies should return nearly to normal in about five to 10 days, he said.

Shortages won’t end completely until oil companies finish repairing a dozen Texas Gulf Coast refineries damaged by two recent hurricanes, Gustav and Ike. Gas inventories dropped 20 percent, mostly affecting the Southeast, according to AAA Auto Club South.

In the meantime, though, suppliers will be able to ship and gas stations sell any type of gasoline, not just the low-sulfur variety usually sold in and around metro Atlanta to help clean up the region’s dirty air.

Read on here.

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