2012-11-14 / Features

Gas Rationing Has History In New York

BY CRISTINA GUARINO


Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed an emergency order that implemented oddeven gas rationing. The order states that only those with license plates ending with odd numbers or letters can buy gas on odd dates and those with even numbers and zeros can purchase gas on even dates. 
Photo Jason D. Antos Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed an emergency order that implemented oddeven gas rationing. The order states that only those with license plates ending with odd numbers or letters can buy gas on odd dates and those with even numbers and zeros can purchase gas on even dates. Photo Jason D. Antos On November 8, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an emergency order that implemented the odd-even gas rationing that began at midnight on November 9, until gas becomes more readily available.

Since the subsiding of Hurricane Sandy, MTA service has been restored, power has returned to many homes that were affected and rebuilding has begun. As always, New York City is proving to be resilient, but one area of concern has remained stagnant: the ongoing lack of gas in the city’s boroughs, particularly in Queens, and Long Island, where officials also called for rationing.

On the mayor’s Web site, Bloomberg explained his reasons for the odd-even gas rationing, which states that only those with license plates ending with odd numbers or letters can buy gas on odd dates and those with even numbers and zeros on even dates.

This policy, however, has many drivers enraged.

“Last week’s storm hit the fuel network hard – and knocked out critical infrastructure needed to distribute gasoline. Even as the region’s petroleum infrastructure slowly returns to normal, the gasoline supply remains a real problem for thousands of New York drivers. Earlier today, I signed an emergency order to alternate the days that drivers can purchase gas, which is the best way to cut down the lines and help customers buy gas faster,” said Bloomberg.

The order affects all five boroughs and Long Island.

Before Hurricane Sandy, New York had a history of gas rationing. In 1979, following the 1973 Arab oil embargo, the Iranian Revolution caused many to worry about the supply of oil coming into the United States. Large lines and general panic caused fist fights, arguments, and chaos much like what we have seen in gas stations these past weeks. To retain order, an odd-even rationing system like the one currently in effect was put in place under President Jimmy Carter. It lasted from June to September.

Before this, the only instance of gas rationing in New York took place in 1942, as a result of World War II. However, the rationing of gasoline had little to do with the amount of available oil. During the war, the first item to be heavily rationed was rubber. In order to more strictly monitor the use of rubber, the material used in car tires, gasoline was rationed. This effectively slowed the use of cars and, as a result, the amount of rubber.

The first attempt at rationing during the war was voluntary. The government urged restricted use of cars, but it soon became evident that a mandatory rationing was needed if the number of miles driven by Americans were to be severely cut. Instead of odd-even system, drivers were given rationing stamps that were turned in for fuel at gas stations.

As this issue goes to press, the rationing in New York is still in effect. New Jersey lifted their ration as of 6 a.m. on November 13, leaving many to wonder when New York will do the same.

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