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September 02, 2005   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
September 02, 2005

MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- Alabama farmers and others will not be restricted on their use of off-road diesel fuel through Sept. 15, thanks to actions taken by Attorney General Troy King in the wake of fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Katrina.

King said these measures will help ensure fuel for emergency personnel, as well as maintaining availability of gasoline and diesel for the general public.

King exercised his discretion not to enforce two regulatory provisions through Sept. 15, after which he will reevaluate whether the suspension needs to be temporarily extended.

"My goal is to keep the supply of fuel flowing to those who need it," said King. "We are asking the petroleum suppliers to work with us to provide fuel to this state, and we do not want to tie their hands as we all work together to meet this crisis. By temporarily lifting enforcement of these two regulations, we will have the flexibility to safely get fuel where it is needed and prevent disastrous shortages."

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry A. Newby praised King's actions.

"Let me thank you for temporarily suspending enforcement of the Red Dyed Diesel Fuel Formulation Requirements in Alabama," said Newby in a letter to King. "This will not only help farmers in this state during this severe fuel crisis but others who may need immediate access to fuel that normally would be for off-road use.

"While this directive may seem unimportant to some individuals, we as farmers, recognize its significance and applaud your action," Newby continued. "With harvest in Alabama approaching and your order scheduled to expire this month, we ask that you extend this directive until normal fuel supplies are restored."

King's first decision applies to a federal regulation involving diesel fuels, which ordinarily are separated into two categories---one of which is not taxed for certain government and other groups, and another which is generally available to the public and is taxed. To distinguish between the two fuels, one contains a harmless red dye that does not alter the chemical makeup but is simply a tool for identification for tax purposes. King has acted to allow suppliers to mix and switch the taxed and untaxed diesel fuel as needed.

"This decision will authorize first responders, law enforcement, cleanup and utility crews to use any available diesel supplies to accomplish their missions during the hurricane emergency," King stated in a letter to Executive Director Dean Peeler of the Alabama Petroleum Council.

The second regulation involves seasonal summertime restrictions that are particular to Shelby and Jefferson counties, which must meet a tighter standard of evaporation rates and sulfur content, and thus ordinarily must be supplied separately from the rest of the state. During this temporary period of time, Shelby and Jefferson counties may use the same gasoline as the rest of the Alabama.

The degree of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina to the petroleum infrastructure is unknown at this time, but supplies have been severely disrupted by evacuation of personnel and halting of operations prior to the storm's strike and in its aftermath. Two major fuel supply lines, Colonial Pipeline and Plantation Pipeline, bring fuel from Gulf Coast refineries and run through Alabama and up toward the Eastern seaboard. Refineries throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are major suppliers to Alabama that may be significantly compromised.

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