Posted by: Lars Anderson, Director, Public Affairs
We know some residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy are experiencing long lines at gas stations and some states are facing fuel shortages. At FEMA, and across the federal government, we recognize this problem and we are taking immediate steps to address this in three primary ways.
First, we are working to increase fuel supply so that resources are getting to impacted areas. Hurricane Sandy disrupted the normal flow of fuel by preventing ships from entering vital ports in the Northeast and creating navigation hazards.
This morning, Secretary Napolitano issued a temporary, blanket waiver of the Jones Act to immediately allow additional oil tankers coming from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports. This will provide more fuel to the region. The Coast Guard also has re-opened the port of New York to all tug and barge traffic carrying petroleum products. And Customs and Border Protection are working to ensure air and sea ports in the affected areas are fully staffed and ready to receive passengers and cargo as they return to operation. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act to temporarily waive certain federal gasoline requirements for gas sold and distributed in more than a dozen states. This waiver will help ensure an adequate supply of fuels in the impacted states.
Second, we are coordinating with states and the private sector to accelerate the distribution of fuel to retail locations. Due to the storm, some refineries and fuel facilities had to be taken off-line and others reduced operations. The Department of Energy is working with industry partners to ensure that the infrastructure to deliver petroleum is up and running to meet fuel demands.
Normal operations have already resumed at two major refineries in Delaware and New Jersey, and pipeline companies have restored services to six pipelines servicing New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and north to Maine. In short, we are working with companies and refineries and infrastructure owners to bring facilities back on line, increase production, and get more fuel flowing.
Finally, we are partnering with major utilities and the private sector to restore power so that gas stations that do have fuel in their tanks are able to get the pumps working again. President Obama has established a national power restoration working group to cut through the red tape, increase federal, state, tribal, local and private sector coordination and restore power to people as quickly as possible.
Yesterday more than 60 power restoration vehicles and crews from private utility companies were airlifted from California to New York to assist with restoration. The federal government also has provided hundreds of generators to help critical infrastructure sites and fuel stations operate until full power is restored. Fuel points of distribution locations also are being identified and will be established in hard hit areas to accelerate fuel distribution.
It will take some time for our nation’s fuel supply chain to get back to full capacity. But we are taking immediate steps in the short term to address the problem and fuel is now flowing into impacted areas.