Energy Dept. to build nation's first gasoline storage reserves in Northeast

The project is an effort to to prevent another gasoline shortage on the scale of the one that unfolded in the region after superstorm Sandy. It's an expansion of the Energy Department’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve plan.

Matthew Brown/AP/File
A Whiting Petroleum Co. pump jack pulls crude oil from the Bakken region of the Northern Plains near Bainville, Mont., in 2013.

The US Energy Department plans to build the nation's first gasoline storage reserves in two Northeast locations, Ernest Moniz, the Energy secretary, announced Friday. The plan is part of the federal government’s effort to prevent another gasoline shortage on the scale of the one that unfolded in New Jersey and New York after superstorm Sandy lashed the region’s coastal refineries and shut down gasoline distribution terminals in the area.

The two reserves, one of which will be near New York Harbor and the other in New England, will hold 500,000 barrels of gasoline, which the government says would be enough to provide short-term relief in the event of disaster. Work on the reserves is expected to begin late this summer.

Superstorm Sandy barreled through the Northeast in October 2012 and left in its wake two wrecked oil refineries, dozens of shuttered oil transport terminals, and countless empty gas pumps and silent generators.

At some gas stations, the line of people waiting to fill their cars’ tanks or collect gas for generators had stretched up to a mile long. Significant police presence had to be deployed to such stations to keep simmering impatience – not helped by the cold or by worries about damage and bills back home – from boiling into violence.

“The sudden, massive gas supply shortage after Superstorm Sandy resulted in interminable [lines and] panic and delivered a gut shot to the region's economy,” said New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D) in a statement. “That's why we called for regionally-placed reserves to ensure an uninterrupted fuel supply in the event of future storms like Sandy.”

The project is an expansion of the Energy Department’s current Strategic Petroleum Reserve plan, which is capable of storing up to 727 million barrels of crude oil, but does not store gasoline. Those reserves, kept in 500 salt domes along the Gulf Coast, were built after the Arab League’s oil embargo in 1973 curtailed the flow of oil to the United States. The reserves have so far been opened three times: during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, after hurricane Katrina in 2005, and during the Arab Spring in 2011.

The new Northeast gas reserves are also among the first steps in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, an ambitious effort to prepare America’s energy infrastructure for the effects of climate change. Last year, an Energy Department report found that the nation’s “fossil, nuclear, and existing and emerging renewable energy sources” were all under threat by climate change. Among the risks identified in the report was the possibility of stronger storms, much like superstorm Sandy, which could flood oil refineries along the coasts at increasing frequencies.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.