Colorado Renews Emergency Order for Fuel Transport

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' extension of the executive order issued in December stems from the temporary shutdown of Suncor's Commerce City refinery. (Gov. Jared Polis via Twitter)

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An ongoing refinery shutdown has prompted Colorado’s governor to extend a fuel supply chain emergency order enabling commercial vehicles to carry heavier fuel loads on state highways for another month.

Gov. Jared Polis on Jan. 27 renewed for 30 days Executive Order D-2023-004 from a similar one he issued in December declaring a disaster emergency due to a fuel supply chain risk stemming from the temporary shutdown of Suncor’s Commerce City Refinery.

The refinery sustained equipment damage in December that occurred during a period of record-setting cold weather. It is expected to remain closed for repairs and inspections before production resumes in four to six weeks.

“The shutdown will result in significant fuel supply challenges throughout state and has caused increases in gas prices,” Polis noted.

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Suncor provides Colorado with 50% of its diesel, 25% of its gasoline and a third of the jet fuel used at Denver International Airport.

He said he has contacted governors in neighboring states as well as refineries and fuel transportation companies in other parts of the United States to maximize fuel distribution to Colorado.

“My administration is pursuing every avenue to mitigate the impacts of Suncor’s temporary shutdown, including temporarily suspending statutes and making temporary regulatory exemptions to facilitate the expeditious delivery of fuel around the state,” Polis noted.

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He directed the state Department of Transportation to issue noninterstate overweight indivisible permits to motor carriers involved in gasoline and fuel transportation to travel on state highways with heavier loads to increase the volume of fuel delivered and reduce the total number of trucks required to deliver that fuel.

“This executive order notwithstanding, all drivers, companies and entities involved in the transportation and delivery of fuel shall prioritize safe practices in all phases of transportation and delivery of fuel,” it noted.

Ill or fatigued drivers remain prohibited from operating a motor vehicle during the emergency period. In addition, motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are ineligible for the exemption.

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Also the Colorado State Patrol has been instructed to temporarily waive some regulations to enable necessary fuel deliveries to distribution points in the state.

Polis said he has urged the state Attorney General’s office to pursue violations of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act regarding charging excessive fuel prices and price gouging.

According to AAA fuel price data for Feb. 1, Colorado’s average price of diesel at $4.77 per gallon was up 11% from a month ago and 38% higher than the same time last year. A gallon of gas averaged $3.87, jumping 33% higher in a month and 17% more than last February.