Law & Order
As several gas station owners are about to learn, it’s against New York State law to jack up the price of goods like fuel after a hurricane. To wit, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced he is bringing his “first series of enforcement actions” against price gougers in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
“Today’s action is the first in a series of steps my office will take as we continue to actively investigate the hundreds of complaints we’ve received from consumers of businesses preying on victims of Hurricane Sandy,” the attorney general said in a statement. “We will do everything we can to stop unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of New Yorkers trying to rebuild their lives.”
New Jersey will end its system of rationing gas tomorrow, but New York City will continue policing fuel consumption for the time being.
“We’ll see,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference earlier today. “It’s hard to measure, but it looks like there are a handful more gas stations open than there were yesterday and the day before. And anecdotal evidence is that lines are shorter, and hopefully that’s true.”
Running on Empty
Yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced new regulations to ration gasoline in New York City. Based on the last digit of their licence plate number, drivers will be able to fill up their tanks exclusively on odd or even numbered days, starting at 6 a.m. this morning. And, on his weekly radio interview with John Gambling today, Mr. Bloomberg made it clear that there wouldn’t be a lot of options to get around the policy.
“What we have done is put a police officer at every gas station that’s open, and are committed to doing that to any gas station that is not open but will open, to make sure that there’s security and that people don’t get pushy in the line and that sort of thing,” he said. “But hopefully this will help. The real answer, all the experts believe, is just with time.”
This afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced New York’s post-storm fuel shortage is worse than initially expected and may last for weeks. Because of this, the mayor announced a new plan to ration gasoline–effective 6 a.m. tomorrow morning.
“Last week’s storm hit the fuel network hard–and knocked out critical infrastructure needed to distribute gasoline,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. “Even as the region’s petroleum infrastructure slowly returns to normal, the gasoline supply remains a real problem for thousands of New York drivers. Earlier today, I signed an emergency order to alternate the days that drivers can purchase gas, which is the best way to cut down the lines and help customers buy gas faster.”
A gasoline shortage is currently hitting the New York City metropolitan area, with many gas stations empty or shuttered due to Hurricane Sandy’s damage, and the remaining locations are plagued by never-ending lines. Asked about the situation today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged the problem and said there is only so much the city can do about it.
“You’ve got to open the harbor, that’s one of the things,” he said to describe the issue. “There are some federal laws prohibiting foreign-flagged ships from doing certain things, we’ve got waivers already; the federal government couldn’t be more helpful. It will take some time. Some of the gas stations aren’t open because they don’t have electricity and the pumps need electricity to run. That, in the next couple days, will hopefully be accommodated. Once mass transit comes back, you have a lot fewer cars trying to buy gasoline.”