Legislation being considered to prevent future gasoline shortages

By Julio Avila & Mary Luz Alpizer

The Lukoil gas station on Middle Country Road in Centereach, one of the many gas stations closed due to the lack of electricity from Hurricane Sandy.

With a huge loss of electricity, gas stations across the island have been left in the dark after Hurricane Sandy.

People have seen the long lines of cars waiting for a few gallons of fuel at gas stations that were open. Drivers were waiting for countless hours as well as seeing gas stations taped off warning motorists of the depletion of gasoline.

Many of these gas stations were closed due to lack of electricity needed to pump gasoline from underground tanks into cars and small gasoline containers. All this may soon change.

Lawmakers and politicians are calling for legislation to be passed requiring all gas stations to have generators in order for people to buy gas and prevent long delays while on line.

In New York, a proposal was introduced by Sen. David Carlucci from Rockland County while in New Jersey, Assemblymen Ralph Caputo and Joseph Cryan have proposed the same thing. These propositions have resulted due to long lines in front of gas stations and are being modeled after similar legislation passed in 2007 in Florida which now requires all gas stations in the State of Florida to have generators for backup power.

“New York State must have a back-up plan in place when power is lost so that gas station operators, the lifeblood of our energy delivery system, have the capacity to service the millions of commuters on a daily basis,” Said Sen. Carlucci, recognizing Long Island as a commuting community. “We need to face the reality that these 100-year storms are now occurring on a regular basis. This legislation will provide a safeguard to our energy supply and will allow us to double-down our efforts to ensure that when disaster strikes, we can rebound to recovery.”

Under Sen. Carlucci’s proposal, the following would be implemented:

•Each terminal facility and wholesaler which sells motor fuel to be capable of operating its loading racks using an electric generator for a minimum of 72 hours. They would be required to have the generator source power available no later than 24 hours after a major disaster.

•Each newly constructed or substantially renovated motor fuel retail outlet given a certificate of occupancy issued on or after July 1, 2013 that must be capable of operating all fuel pumps, dispensing equipment, life safety systems and payment acceptance equipment using an alternative generated power source.

• Each motor fuel retail outlet, which is located within one half mile to an interstate highway or state/federally designated evacuation route, must be capable of operating all fuel pumps, dispensing equipment, life safety systems and payment acceptance equipment using an alternative generated power source.

•Each motor fuel retail outlet must also have a transfer switch installed by a professional electrical contractor and keep a copy of the documentation of the installation at its site or corporate headquarters. They must also keep a written statement stating that they have done testing and have ensured that the equipment is working.

“It’s frustrating to think that the gasoline crisis hitting our state through power outages could have been avoided, but with this bill, we’ll make sure future power outages don’t push New Jerseyans into long and stressful lines,” said Assemblyman Caputo. “But while we better plan for the future, we also need to be cognizant of the need to help out gas station owners, many of whom are independent small business owners who would be hit hard by such an upgrade. We can do that with low-interest loans and get this done for the benefit of everyone.”

Assemblyman Cryan also agrees, and believes in what this bill offers, “With improved planning, we can make sure we don’t see a repeat of this problem due to power outages. This is a smart and sensible step, but also one that can prove costly to the business people that run these stations, so we can help ease the burden with low-interest loans. This will help consumers and businesses alike, and is the best approach to actually getting this done.”

With the proposal of this legislation come the opinions and research by students. At the college, students shared what they thought over the proposed legislation and voiced what they believed as well.

Out of 100 students surveyed:

  • 87 percent of students were affected by the hurricane while 13 percent of students were not.
  • In terms of days, students waited an average of 3 days after the hurricane to get gasoline. In terms of hours, students waited an average of 3 and- ½ hours in line waiting to get gasoline.
  • When asked whether this bill should be passed, incredibly 99 percent of students agreed that this bill should be passed while one percent was neutral in this decision.
  • When asked if students believe this bill will help prevent the consequences of future blackouts caused by hurricanes which affect the gas supply, 92 percent believed this would help prevent this dilemma while 8 percent believed this will not help prevent this situation in the future should another severe hurricane were to strike.
  • When asked how effective students think the result would be, 74 percent of students believe the result of the proposition would be somewhat effective, 16 percent believe the results would be very effective while 10 percent believed the results would not be very effective.

Students have also shared potential suggestions in what they believe could help prevent another future gas crisis. “The problem with this bill is that gas stations would need to tap into their existing gas supply to run their generators just to pump gas. (It) might buy time until their next delivery.” said Ruben Cruz.

Another student believes that gas stations should have been prepared stating, “”I think they should be more advanced in dealing with these type of problems, i think gas stations should have trucks that deliver their gas the day before the storms. Generators would be a great idea.” said Katherine Kenny.

One student had a straight forward answer stating people should, “ride a f***ing bike”, said Jennifer Carbone.

One idea that was repeated a few times were to implement license plate verification in which if the last number on your license plate was an even number, you would get gas on even numbered days only, and if the last number on your license plate was odd, you would get gas on odd numbered days.

This idea has been implemented by Governor Cuomo. It has been reported the lines and wait times have decreased, one positive step towards making sure current mistakes do not get repeated.

2 responses

  1. Excellent article! Great job Julio and Mary!

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