Washington — Because of the severe disruption to gasoline supplies wrought by Superstorm Sandy, the Department of Energy Friday announced it will establish two Northeast gasoline reserves, one near New York Harbor and the other in New England.

The location of the planned New England reserve was not disclosed.

The DOE said each reserve will  store 500,000 barrels of gasoline, “enough to provide some short-term relief in the event of significant disruptions.”

The DOE also said the reserves will complement the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve, a one million barrel supply of diesel for the Northeast. Emergency withdrawals from the heating oil reserve were used for the first time in response to Superstorm Sandy to supply first responders and emergency generators in the region.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused heavy damage to two refineries, and more than 40 terminals in New York Harbor were closed due to water damage and loss of power. That left some New York gas stations without fuel for as long as 30 days, the DOE said. Many New Yorkers drove to Connecticut to find an open gas station, but there were shortages in Connecticut, too.

The decision to establish the gasoline reserves is part of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz’s Quadrennial Energy Review.

The Energy Department has a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that holds about 700 million barrels of oil in salt caverns in coastal Texas and Louisiana.

But this is the first time the federal government plans to stockpile a refined petroleum product.

“Establishing a refined petroleum product reserve of gasoline – acquired and owned by the U.S. government, and stored at leased commercial storage terminals along the East Coast – will help mitigate the impacts of sudden and unexpected supply interruptions,” the DOE said in a statement.

Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., applauded the move.

“Additional regional gasoline reserves are a welcome step for Connecticut consumers – ensuring a critical supply line of vital gasoline for emergency personnel as well as citizens who need to travel after a natural disaster,” Blumenthal said. “Extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy are becoming the new normal, and I applaud Secretary Moniz for this and other smart, strategic investments to prepare for the effects of climate change.”

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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