WASHINGTON -- A new bill would create a fuel reserve in Florida to protect the state from the type of supply disruptions triggered this past September by Hurricane Irma.
The Florida Gasoline Supply Reserve Act directs the secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy to create a Florida Gasoline Supply Reserve with two locations, one on the state’s east coast and one on the west coast. Collectively, the two locations would hold a minimum of 1 million barrels of refined petroleum products.
“When a major storm is heading towards our state, we have to make sure people have access to the gas they need to get out of harm’s way,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bill Nelson (D). “A Florida gas reserve would not only help prevent some of the gas shortages we saw ahead of Hurricane Irma, but would also help ensure that our first responders have the fuel they need to help people during and after the storm.”
Fuel shortages were endemic in Florida before Hurricane Irma’s landfall, as people attempted to evacuate the state. In September, Nelson sent a letter to DOE Secretary Rick Perry asking him to set up a fuel-supply reserve for Florida similar to the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve that was created for the Northeast after Superstorm Sandy. “Florida is vulnerable to both extreme storms and fuel supply disruptions,” Nelson wrote at the time. “A Florida gasoline supply reserve would ensure that residents and first responders have access to an emergency supply of fuel and help prevent the shortages that may have kept some from evacuating and may hinder recover efforts going forward.”
As of press time, Perry had reportedly not yet replied to Nelson’s letter.