Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Jim Holzapfel that would prohibit fuel retailers from using a residency requirement to sell gasoline was approved by the New Jersey Senate.
“When individual gas station owners implement their own rationing systems in an emergency, they can create confusion leading to even longer lines and greater frustration for consumers,” said Senator Holzapfel (R-Ocean). “As we experienced in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the decision to ration gasoline is best left to the Governor who can enact uniform rules for all gas stations which can be clearly explained to the public.”
The bipartisan bill, S-2391, which passed with a vote of 39 to 0, is in response to instances of gas stations restricting sales to residents of their home communities in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
The bill would prohibit motor fuel retailers from refusing to sell to customers on the basis of where they live or to require any proof of residency, unless an official statewide state of emergency determines these restrictions are needed to alleviate an existing or impending fuel shortage.
“Retailers can’t discriminate with a residency requirement during normal conditions, they certainly shouldn’t be imposing their own rationing system during an emergency,” said Senator Weinberg. “The people of New Jersey came together and helped each other after Sandy hit our communities. We shouldn’t allow that spirit of cooperation and unity to be compromised by denying motorists needed fuel based on where they live.”
Because of storm damage to gas stations, many communities were plagued with persistent gas shortages, making it difficult for motorists to get their vehicles fueled. The difficulties were compounded for those who were turned away because of their residency.
Currently, there are no consumer safeguards on the books to prevent these types of selective sales.