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Getting Gas During NJ Emergencies Is A Nightmare [AUDIO]

Remember those lines for gas that sometimes stretched for miles just after Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey? How about the odd-even gas rationing?

People line up to fill gas canisters at a Shell gas station
People line up to fill gas canisters at a Shell gas station in Matawan (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Lawmakers in the Garden State are trying to learn from those nightmarish lessons.

They are sponsoring bills to make sure fuel is available during a declared State of Emergency and that drivers can actually afford it.

The legislation is co-sponsored by State Senators Jennifer Beck, a Republican and Robert Gordon, a Democrat.

The first bill temporarily waives the requirement that fuel merchants obtain a distributor’s license to import or deliver motor fuel from another state into this state when the Governor declares a state of energy emergency.

“The moment the Governor declares a State of Emergency that provision is waived so that fuel supply can come into the state as needed,” explains Beck. “After Sandy we were all really, really caught off guard that we were in this position. I think you take for granted that you can fill up your vehicle if gas is available nearby.”

Under current law, fuel merchants cannot purchase motor fuel from another state and import or deliver it in New Jersey unless the merchant first obtains a distributor’s license. Due to gas shortages following Sandy, this provision was temporarily waived by Governor Chris Christie to allow merchants to purchase fuel from across State lines and boost supplies for New Jersey motorists.

Under this bill, the distributor’s license requirement would be automatically suspended when a state of energy emergency is declared allowing merchants to import fuel from out-of-State as soon as possible following the declaration.

“Hurricane Sandy showed us that there is still much to do to better prepare when a storm is coming. This bill is another example of what we can do better before, during and after natural disasters,” said Senator Bob Gordon.  “Simply put, these bills allow for other methods to help put much-needed gasoline into the cars of New Jersey drivers during a state of emergency.”

The second measure provides that when a retail motor fuel dealer exhausts the supply of his lowest grade motor fuel during a state of energy emergency that dealer may sell any remaining supply of higher octane motor fuel at the same price per gallon or liter as the price the dealer charged for a gallon or liter of the lowest grade motor fuel.

“If you run out of your lower cost fuel and you want to sell your higher octane gasoline at that price you’re allowed to,” says Beck. “You almost would think, ‘I can’t believe we actually need that law,’ but it is governed by statutes and regulations in this state.”

The current regulations are aimed at ensuring a competitive balance in the marketplace.

The Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to consider both bill today.

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