Feds to stock emergency fuel reserve in New York Harbor

A line of people waiting to fill their A line of people waiting to fill their gas cans forms around the Hess station on Deer Park Avenue and Weeks Road in Deer Park. (Nov. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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WASHINGTON -- The federal government will stockpile 500,000 barrels of gasoline in the New York Harbor for short-term relief to disasters -- in time for the most intense part of the hurricane season this year, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Friday.

That federal stockpile and another 500,000-barrel reserve in New England are the first of their kind and a response to gas shortages caused by superstorm Sandy, Moniz said in a telephone news conference.

"This fuel reserve is exactly what Long Island would need if, God forbid, there was another storm like Sandy," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who recalled the hardships and long lines at service stations on the Island after the superstorm hit at the end of October 2012.

Six months ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $10-million pilot project for a state gas reserve on Long Island of 3 million gallons, or nearly 70,000 barrels -- enough, officials said, for about one day's demand. The state reserve, which Northville Industries will store at its East Setauket facility, is separate from the planned federal reserve.

Moniz said the federal government will enter into five-year contracts for commercial storage and gasoline acquisition by late summer. The cost is expected to be about $200 million, he said.

"It's a good idea. It's a good plan, as long as it's implemented the right way and as long as they do their due diligence," said Kevin Beyer, president of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association.

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Beyer said he had questions about how the gasoline would be distributed, which stations would get it and how the dealers would pay for it.

Moniz said the Department of Energy will work with the Defense Logistics Agency on distribution plans, including the use of barges and trucks to deliver gasoline. The final location of the reserve will be a key factor in those plans, he said.

Sandy closed half of the critical fuel terminals at the Port of New York's Linden, Bayonne and Newark shorelines and flooded Long Island's Inwood terminal -- and barges could not deliver gasoline because the harbor was closed.

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That, and a lack of electricity at stations for gasoline pumps, led to shortages and long lines of cars whose drivers were waiting to fill their tanks.

With Tom Incantalupo

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