My friends in New Jersey tell me about miles-long lines to get gas at the few stations that still have the electricity needed to pump gas. As you know, there are few things that make Americans more anxious than the thought of running out of gas, so this transport will do a lot to reassure the victims in the Sandy-struck areas:
WASHINGTON — As long lines persisted at gas stations in the New York metropolitan area, federal authorities moved on Friday to restore supplies, instructing the Defense Department to send 24 million gallons of fuel to the region and lifting restrictions on deliveries by foreign-flagged ships.
With the reopening of the Port of New York to tankers on Thursday, and the return of a critical Northeast fuel pipeline to full capacity on Friday, the biggest outstanding problems are the lack of power at hundreds of gas stations and continued panic buying by the public, industry officials said.
Because electricity will not be restored in parts of central New Jersey for seven to 10 days, gasoline shortages may remain severe in some areas. As of Friday, according to AAA, only 40 to 50 percent of the gas stations in New York City and New Jersey were operating, and even fewer were operating on Long Island. Most of the stations were out of service because of power failures.
“We have seen some stations open as power is restored, but other stations have closed while running out of gas,” said Michael Green, an AAA spokesman. “The long lines and supply problems will go away once power is restored.”
The Obama administration, realizing the political peril if it were to be blamed for fuel shortages in the days before the election, significantly accelerated its response on Friday.
It authorized the Defense Department to hire hundreds of trucks that will be used to deliver 12 million gallons each of gasoline and diesel fuel, mostly from commercial suppliers, to staging areas in New Jersey. The department is handling the task because its Defense Logistics Agency has contracting powers that enable it to move quickly.
From the staging areas, the fuel will be distributed throughout the region in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help resupply stations. Together, the gasoline and diesel are enough for 1.6 million vehicles with 15-gallon tanks.