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Letters: Gasoline supply in a disaster

Readers respond to fuel shortages following superstorm Sandy.

Readers respond to fuel shortages following superstorm Sandy. Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2010

I take exception to some of the views of Kevin Beyer, president of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association ["Gov't should ensure free flow of gas," Opinion, Nov. 12]. Being able to open a station's retail store to make a profit is not a requirement in an emergency.

If a station would like to invest in a larger generator to open the store for a profit, the owner should foot the bill.

The emergency generator should be used only for pumping gas, and some of the cost should be paid by the public. Gas needs to be looked at as a public trust, just like electricity, natural gas, water and telephone service.

Tom Bush, Lynbrook

In the wake of Sandy, our legislators have been quick to suggest new laws ordering gas stations to have backup power. This knee-jerk legislation is ill-conceived ["Bill seeks manual pumps at gas stations," News, Nov. 8].

The inconvenience of recent gasoline shortages was exacerbated by poor leadership. Our leaders might have done well to ration in advance of the storm.

Second, this solution provides nothing more than a few hours of supply. It would not solve our problem, which was resupplying the gas stations.

Some legislators are calling for standby generators. Generators are expensive and will add to the cost of everyone's gasoline purchases. Generators must be constantly maintained or else, when called upon, they won't work. The maintenance cost would also be borne by the consumer. And, ironically, gasoline-fueled generators consume the scarce resource they're supposed to help provide.

Seven of the nine homes in my cul-de-sac operated generators during Sandy. There will be more generators around for the next storm. Yet, if we really had faced a crises of supply, we could have used one generator to feed electricity to four homes, running heat, refrigeration and lights at alternating times and consuming 25 percent of the gasoline. Had we rationed, we might have traded our conveniences for self-restraint. Rationing is the only way to equitably distribute a scarce commodity and promote frugal consumption.

Mitch Barber, Merrick