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Public Statements

Letter to President Obama

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Newark, NJ

U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today called for increased support from the federal government to ease the gasoline crisis in New Jersey caused by Hurricane Sandy. In a letter to President Obama, the Senators requested that federal agencies ramp up their efforts to help electric utilities restore power to gas stations, supply emergency generators to stations, and continue efforts to truck in emergency fuel supplies.

"Restoring reliable access to fuel is critical to helping New Jerseyans get their lives back to normal and keeping vehicles and emergency generators operating," the Senators wrote in their letter. "We ask that you direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to redouble its efforts to restore power to additional service stations in New Jersey. If power cannot be restored quickly, we ask that backup generators be provided and emergency fuel supplies continue to be delivered."

The Senators also asked that federal authorities assist New Jersey in investigating claims of gas price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

"There are already reports that prices for gasoline and other critical commodities have risen dramatically. We urge you to direct the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and other relevant federal agencies to assist the New Jersey Attorney General and other state officials to investigate these claims."

The full text of the letter follows:

November 2, 2012

Dear President Obama:

We are writing to ask for your assistance in easing gasoline shortages in New Jersey and ensuring that consumers are not being gouged by price manipulation. Following Hurricane Sandy, service stations across New Jersey lost power and have been unable to pump gasoline. In addition, the storm disrupted key supplies of gasoline and other fuels. This has led to severe shortages over the past few days, long lines, and rising prices. Restoring reliable access to fuel is critical to helping New Jerseyans get their lives back to normal and keeping vehicles and emergency generators operating.

According to current estimates, 80 percent of the service stations in northern New Jersey are without power and unable to pump gasoline. This has led to long lines and limited supplies at the few stations that are able to operate. Restoring electricity or providing backup generators would help ease this situation and allow gasoline supplies that are already stored at some of these stations to reach consumers. We ask that you direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to redouble their efforts to restore power to additional service stations in New Jersey. If power cannot be restored quickly, we ask that backup generators be provided and emergency fuel supplies continue to be delivered.

In addition to the gasoline shortage, there is always the potential for price manipulation and gouging following any major natural disaster. There are already reports that prices for gasoline and other critical commodities have risen dramatically. While some of this may reflect appropriate market conditions in the wake of the storm, it is important that these claims are investigated to ensure that consumers are being treated fairly. We urge you to direct the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and other relevant federal agencies to assist the New Jersey Attorney General and other state officials to investigate these claims.

We applaud your tremendous leadership and efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. While there is clearly more work to be done, significant progress has been made to restore power, provide relief to those affected by the storm, and start repairing our communities. We look forward to continue working with you to recover, repair, and rebuild from this historic natural disaster.

Sincerely,


cc: Eric Holder, United States Attorney General
Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Jonathan Leibowitz, Chairman, Federal Trade Commission


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