Waiver and Enforcement of Regulations and Laws on Gasoline Distributors in the Wake of Sandy
Jersey and New York gasoline distributors continue to struggle to supply gas stations with diesel and gasoline product while federal and state legislatures both suspend and invoke regulations in order to assist and police gasoline distributors.
In the wake of Sandy both the waiver and enforcement of laws and regulations governing gasoline and diesel distributors are on the rise. On one hand, the EPA has temporarily waived federal clean diesel fuel requirements in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York City, allowing all “heating oil and off-road fuel oil with less than 15 ppm sulfur that contain red dye to be used in any model year diesel powered highway and off-road vehicles and off-road equipment.” Additionally, the EPA has issued a “No Action Assurance” for any violation incurred during loading or off-loading product due to damaged vapor recovery systems.
The Pennsylvania legislature is waiving the 2% diesel mandate arising from section 1650.3(a)(1) of the Biofuel Development and In-State Production Incentive Act. The suspension was originally put into place until November 12, 2012, but, on November 9th, was extended to November 22, 2012.
On the other hand, New York and New Jersey are invoking regulations to prevent price gouging. In some cases, there have been reports of gas prices rising by more than $1 per gallon immediately following Sandy. According to Oil Express both the attorney general’s office and the Division of Consumer Affairs in New Jersey have received hundreds of complaints about pricing at gasoline retail outlets prompting the state to issue 100 subpoenas to gas stations. Those stations receiving subpoenas will be required to provide documentation on their cost of product. New Jersey’s price-gouging statute makes it illegal to charge prices that are in excess of 10% above the retailer’s normal course-of-business pricing. The price gouging statute carries heavy penalties of $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for subsequent offenses, with each individual sale of product considered a separate offense.
New York’s Attorney General has also received hundreds of price-gouging complaints. According to OPIS, some reports place prices at $10 per gallon. New York’s Price-Gouging Law (§ 396-r) prohibits “unconscionably excessive prices,” which is only defined as a “gross disparity” between the price during an emergency and the price during the normal course of business. (OPISNET.com)
Government agencies on both the state and federal level continue to use both the waiver and enforcement of regulations to assist the victims of Sandy in obtaining the petroleum products they need.