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Could Government Have Done More To Prevent Sandy Gas Crunch? [AUDIO]

While New Jerseyans continue cleaning up and rebuilding their lives in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many are still finding themselves in enormously long lines at gas stations across the state.

Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

But, some officials say the federal government dragged its heels in waiving the Jones Act, which prohibits the transfer of goods between U.S. ports unless the ship moving the cargo is made in the United States, registered in the United States and staffed by an all American crew.

“Lifting the Jones Act would allow foreign flagged ships to bring gasoline and components that go into making gasoline into U.S. ports,” said Denton Cinquegrana, executive editor at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall. “While waiving that earlier would have helped, at the same time, parts of the New York Harbor were closed off to boat traffic, so in some cases, lifting the Jones Act probably wouldn’t do much good anyway.”

“There really has not been a gasoline shortage this entire time. The problem has been power,” said Cinquegrana. “You need power for pipelines to operate, for terminals to operate and obviously, for the gas stations to operate as well. So, that’s why we have this perceived shortage, when it isn’t a supply shortage, it’s a power shortage more than anything. It is improving. As the lights continue to go back on, you’re going to see the terminals start to trickle back online. The pipelines are starting to operate again. The only problem is there’s not enough juice in the pipelines to get them moving solidly. So, it’s going to take a few more days, but it looks like things are improving and we’ll continue to see that as the days go on.”

Now, all eyes are on the next storm that’s coming in. “It’ll be more of the same. If there are more power disruptions, we may be in for a few long, frustrating days. On the flip side, there may be no disruption at all,” he said.

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