As Floridians warily eye fuel deliveries, and with the past experiences of fuel shortages following hurricanes in mind, State Senator Gary Farmer on Thursday called for the creation of a strategic fuel reserve in Florida to prevent future shortfalls and consumer runs on gasoline supplies.
“The Colonial Pipeline hacking exposed a major flaw in our state’s ability to be prepared for disaster to strike,” said Senator Farmer. “Even though most of our state relies on port delivery to refill our tanks, fear itself was enough to spark the gas-buying panic, and empty the supply across the state. In the meantime, with hurricane season poised to begin, there is the very real threat of gas shortages as storms approach or refineries are shut down. The only way to ensure gasoline continues to flow unimpeded in Florida no matter the cause is by establishing a strategic fuel reserve.”
Senator Farmer is urging that his legislation, SB1454, filed during the 2021 legislative session, be included in the call for the gambling special session, scheduled to start on Monday. The bill would establish a task force under the Department of Emergency Management to establish a strategic fuel reserve plan for the State of Florida.
“The gas shortages Floridians confronted needn’t have happened and wouldn’t have happened had we taken up and passed the strategic fuel reserve legislation,” he said. “As the hurricane season begins next month, we are duty bound to address the security of our fuel supply next week. I’m ready to bring SB 1454 back to the Senate for consideration at any time. It’s my hope that the governor and fellow lawmakers will join me in recognizing the urgency of this issue.”
Acknowledging that the executive order recently issued by the governor may lessen price gouging, Senator Farmer nevertheless pointed out that the governor’s actions do nothing to prevent fuel shortages now or in the future. “While I believe that it was necessary to put some measure in place to prevent price gouging, the sweeping executive order by Governor DeSantis was clearly a politically motivated move that only furthered unfounded panic buying and shortages that we are seeing across the state today. What we have right now is a Governor whose gut reaction is to rule by fiat and not through the regular means established by our constitution, that’s what’s really going on here.”
In 2017, gasoline shortages and long lines at the pump set in as millions of Floridians attempted to flee the changing path of Hurricane Irma, Senator Farmer noted, one of the largest mass evacuations in U.S. history. Gas pumps as far north as Tallahassee and Georgia reported outages as evacuees sought safety to ride out the storm.
“Since the gas panic disaster of 2017, I’ve been calling for the creation of a strategic fuel reserve in Florida,” he said, “and I believe that today’s consumer-driven gas shortage is a perfect example of why it’s an absolute necessity.”