As local gas prices rise, state officials issue waiver to free u - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

As local gas prices rise, state officials issue waiver to free up more supply

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The wrath of Hurricane Harvey has forced one-fifth of the nation's gasoline production facilities offline, making prices spike across the country.

But federal and state officials are doing what they can to free up more supply.

At the Phillips 66 station on Dutch Mill Road near the Beltline, the price of a regular gallon of gas sat at $2.46 Friday evening.

The station's manager told 27 News it was $2.19 per gallon just one week ago.

The price spike comes as local families fill up for the extended Labor Day weekend.

"It's nice to see them (prices) down low, but with the Hurricane I figured they would shoot up, and was expecting it," said Randy Overcash, who was filling up his daughter's car Friday afternoon.

Hannah Larson lives in Madison, but often drives to her hometown in western Wisconsin. She has been very appreciative of the low prices this summer.

"It was only $2.14 a few weeks ago, the last time I took a drive to Viroqua, an easy drive - one hour and twenty minutes," said Larson.

Larson grew up in Viroqua with friend Hannah King, who she met at the Dutch Mill Park and Ride Friday.

King now lives in Chicago, where gas prices have climbed even higher.

"It was $2.50ish a while ago and now it's around $2.90," said King.

Erin Roth, of the American Petroleum Institute, works as a lobbyist in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

He told 27 News the supply of gas is very low.

"We've got ten refineries shut down in the Gulf and five operating on reduced capacity," said Roth. "That makes up 21 percent of the nation's refining capacity."

On Thursday, the EPA worked to free up more supply, by allowing 38 states to sell winter-blend gasoline immediately.

Federal emission standards normally prohibit winter-blend gas to be sold earlier than September 15.

The State of Wisconsin had to waive its own emission standards as well to make it available here.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection did that Friday afternoon, effective immediately.

"We can make more gasoline out of a barrel of oil with the winter-time blend, as opposed to the summer-time blend," explained Roth.

That won't solve the problem, but should provide at least some relief.

"If they've got the supply and it's there, then yeah, put it out," said Overcash. "Let us get our hands on it and help everybody out at these pumps as much as possible."

Roth said customers can do their part to make sure the supply lasts longer as well.

He advises against people topping off their tank every day or two, even though prices might be rising.

"What that can do is make that situation worse at that retail location, because most of those folks are going to be put on what's called 'allocation' because of the tight supply," said Roth. "And so, you can really screw up a retailer's business by keep going to the gas station and filling your tank when it's not necessary."

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