Schumer: Emergency Fuel Reserve Coming to New York

Gas Reserve
Walk-ups at a Hess gas station in Copiague Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 filled cans and containers of all shapes and dimensions with fuel for their cars and generators, including buckets, water jugs and antifreeze bottles. (Christopher Twarowski/Long Island Press)

More than a year-and-a-half following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, local and federal officials are continuing the arduous process of attempting to solve of the problems that contributed to the disaster—and that includes the memorable gap in gasoline supply, which sparked chaos at the pumps, leading to unbearable lines that snaked along local roads, some more than a mile long.

On Friday, federal officials announced a plan to create an emergency fuel reserve near New York Harbor that will store a half-million barrels of gasoline meant for short-term relief in emergency situations.

Sandy, which struck Long Island and New York City on Oct. 29, 2012, seriously damaged two area refineries, and also forced the closure of more than three-dozen terminals in New York Harbor due to power outages and water damage.

Gas stations throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties also experienced outages, making them unable to accept deliveries and pump gasoline to fuel cars and generators.

“The sudden, massive gas supply shortage after Superstorm Sandy resulted in interminable line, panic and delivered a gut shot to the region’s economy,” Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “That’s why we called for regionally-placed reserves to ensure an uninterrupted fuel supply in the event of future storms like Sandy.”

The gasoline reserves will be established by the Department of Energy, officials said. In a statement, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the reserve will “help ease the effects of potential future gasoline supply disruptions.”

The Energy Department anticipates awarding contracts for commercial storage by late summer 2014, officials said.

Last October, New York State announced its own pilot program to prepare for a future gas supply crisis called the “Strategic Gasoline Reserve,” which Gov. Andrew Cuomo said “will prevent the days of long lines at gas stations if another storm hits.”

The reserve, designed for Long Island, will hold approximately 3 million gallons of fuel for drivers and first responders, officials said.

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