Georgia Officials Debate Response to Gas Crisis

3 10 2008

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia leaders are debating whether to revise the state’s emergency fuel plan and are considering ways to bolster gas supply in the aftermath of the abrupt shortage of gas that sent some motorists into a frenzy.

As lines outside gas stations grow shorter, frustrating searches for fuel have given way to soul-searching among Georgia legislators. Critics, meanwhile, have sharply condemned the state’s response to the crisis.

The gas shortage started with the one-two punch of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which shut down refineries along the Gulf Coast. And the hankering among panicky drivers to top off their tanks when they passed an open fueled station made things worse.

Soon many gas stations around metro Atlanta were shuttered, and some lines outside those that stayed open could stretch for hours. Radio stations eagerly broadcast the names of open stations, and some drivers tailed fuel trucks in hopes of filling up their tanks.

Georgia’s leaders updated an emergency plan last year to better handle a gas crisis. Among other options, the plan allows the governor to limit drivers to fill up their tanks every other day and set minimum and maximum limits on how much fuel they can purchase.

Gov. Sonny Perdue lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency to permit delivery of high-sulfur gasoline to metro Atlanta because the cleaner-burning low sulfur fuel normally required was in short supply.

But he ruled out more stringent options amid worries they would spark an even greater panic. Some of the measures proved too difficult to enforce while others weren’t feasible, said Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley.

Read on here.

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