Pallone, Kennedy, Northeastern Representatives Introduce Legislation to Shield Sandy Gasoline Reserve from Elimination by Trump

Sep 14, 2017

Washington, DC –Congressmen Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) together with Reps. Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), William R. Keating (D-MA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Paul D. Tonko (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Peter Welch (D-VT) today introduced legislation to create in law a Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve.  The Reserve, which would hold up to one million barrels of gasoline, is critical to ensuring that the region is protected from a disruption in the supply of gasoline due to a natural or manmade disaster.

The Members of Congress stressed that the move was necessary because President Donald J. Trump has moved to eliminate the reserve created in 2014 in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy by President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

“President Trump’s effort to eliminate the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve is as outrageous as it is shortsighted.  Given how severely limited access to gasoline was in the wake of Sandy, it is imperative  to defend a measure that can save our economy and even save lives in an emergency.

“The legislation we’re introducing will protect the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve from being wiped out by establishing it in law as part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.”

The legislation:

·         Amends the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) to create a Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve (NGSR) of one million gallons as part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

·         Initially covers the states of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

·         Provides the Secretary of Energy with authority to add additional, contiguous states to be covered by the reserve. 

·         Permits the Secretary to use the reserve upon a finding by the President that a severe energy supply interruption exists or is likely to exist in the region within the next 30 days. 

·         Requires the Secretary to sell the gasoline at fair market value with no loss of revenue to the United States.  

·         Directs the Secretary to transmit to the President and Congress a plan within 60 days of enactment describing the acquisition of storage and related facilities for the NGSR.

·         Authorizes the Secretary to acquire, store, and transport refined petroleum products acquired by either purchase or exchange.

Pallone and Kennedy said that with the 2017 Hurricane season already producing monstrous Atlantic storms like Irma, it was even more critical than ever to ensure that the Northeast had in place a reserve and other mechanisms to make the region more resilient when another storm strikes.  They noted that it was particularly important to have a reserve in place in light of the fact that updated predictions by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have called for above average activity this year, including 11-17 named storms, five to nine of which would become hurricanes. 

Pallone, who is the Ranking Democratic Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce with jurisdiction over Federal energy policy, said:

“Maybe being whisked to Bedminster by federal vehicles and tax dollars might have caused President Trump to forget the devastation that Sandy brought to New Jersey and the northeastern United States, but we and our constituents have not.  Access to gasoline was severely limited in the aftermath of the storm, causing major problems in the region impacting homeowners, businesses and emergency personnel.  We learned hard lessons from this experience and put in place a plan to make the region more resilient when another storm strikes.”

Kennedy, who also serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee added:

“After every natural disaster, once rescue and recovery efforts have ended, our country and our government not only reflect on the strength of our response, but study our shortcomings and promise never to repeat them. Once the winds and rains of Sandy subsided, a shortage of gasoline hampered recovery efforts and compounded the suffering of our neighbors throughout the Northeast. If this gasoline reserve is eliminated for political reasons, it will leave our constituents vulnerable and our local governments unprepared when the unexpected arrives again.”