Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey says the Trump administration’s proposal to sell off the entire gasoline reserve created in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is “stunningly shortsighted.” Pallone, a Democrat, represents the 6th Congressional District that includes the state’s northern coastal communities.
In a budget proposal released Tuesday that aims to reduce the national debt, the White House is seeking to sell the country’s entire backup gasoline supply and half of the emergency oil stockpile.
Bloomberg reports that the first complete budget proposal would raise nearly $17 million over the next decade by “drawing down” the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Laws enacted prior to the Trump administration directed the sale of nearly 190 oil barrels by 2025 to fund other programs, the report says.
Mick Mulvaney, head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters that “it’s the responsible thing to do,” according to the Bloomberg report. The “risk goes down dramatically when we have increased domestic production like we have today.”
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a federal complex of four sites with deep underground storage caverns created in salt domes along the Texas and Louisiana coasts that currently store 713.5 million barrels of crude oil, according to the Office of Fossil Energy.
The plan also seeks to close the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve, which currently holds more than one million barrels of gasoline between sites in the New York City, Boston, and South Portland areas. The reserve, created after the gasoline shortages during Sandy, would be entirely sold off.
And that angers Pallone, whose district includes hard-hit Monmouth County.
“President Trump may have forgotten the devastation that Sandy brought to New Jersey, but my constituents and I have not. Access to gasoline was severely limited in the aftermath of the storm, causing major problems in the region impacting homeowners, businesses and emergency personnel,” he said in a release.
After the storm, ports were closed, traffic jams made it difficult to deliver gasoline, and many gas stations didn’t have emergency generators to run fuel pumps. 33 gas stations in New Jersey received grants in late 2014 to purchase generators.
The congressman adds that the gasoline shortage was a “hard lesson” learned from the Sandy experience and that the current proposal comes as the state is still recovering.
“With many New Jerseyans still rebuilding, it is stunningly shortsighted for President Trump to abandon a measure that can save our economy and even save lives in an emergency,” Pallone said.
The federal budget requires congressional approval after a typically lengthy review and revision period.