N.J. may allow discount fuel sales during emergencies

New Jersey may allow retailers to sell premium gas at the price of regular if they run short of fuel during emergencies.

A state Senate committee will consider such a measure Monday.

Some gas stations charged the lower price for premium to drivers who had waited on long lines after Hurricane Sandy only to find there was no more regular gas when they finally got to the pumps.

But some of those retailers were fined by the state for violating pricing rules, says Sen. Bob Gordon, D-Bergen.The legislation he’s proposing would prevent that from happening when the governor declares an energy emergency.

“We’re trying to remove any hurdle we can find in the distribution of fuel,” he said.

New Jersey Gasoline and Automotive Association executive director Sal Risalvato doesn’t believe the law is needed because he says most retailers would not hurt their profits by selling premium at regular prices.

“I am baffled why the Legislature needs to introduce this law, and I would suggest that they just scrap it,” he said.

Gordon says he’s not about to do that.

“I think we’re going to see more events of the kind we saw with Sandy,” he said. “Anything that we can do to streamline the process and facilitate the flow of fuel should be something that we do.”

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