Obama Has Ordered The Military To Send 24 Million Gallons Of Fuel To Sandy-Affected Areas

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[credit provider=”Daniel Goodman / Business Insider” url=”http://www.businessinsider.com.au/author/daniel-goodman”]

The Obama administration accelerated its response to the fuel problem in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy Friday, and has authorised the Pentagon to deliver 24 million gallons of extra fuel to replenish supply, according to the New York Times.Via The Times:

[The Obama administration] authorised the defence Department to hire hundreds of trucks that will be used to deliver 12 million gallons each of gasoline and diesel fuel to staging areas in New Jersey. The fuel, mostly from commercial suppliers, will then be distributed throughout the region in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help resupply stations. That would translate into 800,000 vehicles with 15-gallon tanks.

The defence Logistics Agency is handling the fuel purchases and deliveries. It has contracting capacity that it is using to carry out the mission quickly.

In conjunction with that move, the Pentagon was authorised by the Department of Energy and the White House to tap the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve. The federal authorities will draw down as much as 2 million gallons of diesel fuel to provide extra supplies to government emergency responders, helping them to keep electricity generators, water pumps, federal buildings, trucks and other vehicles running. The oil reserve, created by the federal government in 2000, holds 42 million gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel at terminals in Groton, Conn., and Revere, Mass. It is the first time fuel has been released from the reserve.

With four days to go until the election, the decision was likely made in large part to avoid the political pitfalls of being blamed for a fuel shortage. But it is unlikely to do much to change the underlying factors causing the perceived crisis. As the Times points out, New York port has been reopened to tankers and the Northeast fuel pipeline is back at full capacity, so the real problems now are lack of power at gas stations and panic buying.

To solve those problems in the hardest hit areas, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced Friday that the state will start rationing gas in 12 counties Saturday.