By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a State of Emergency in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey to prevent price gouging and allow for faster transport of gasoline as prices continue to trend upward.
“I declared a State of Emergency within the State of Alabama to mitigate the negative impact of this disruption in the supply of gasoline and other petroleum products by waiving Federal hours-of-service requirements on petroleum transport motor carriers and drivers,” Ivey wrote in amended proclomation on Friday.
Ivey originally issued the State of Emergency on Aug. 30 but updated it on Sept. 1 to prevent price gouging.
Gas prices have been rising quickly since Harvey hit Houston last month, hampering oil production and cutting off one of the nation’s most important oil and petroleum pipelines, the Colonial Pipeline, which connects large portions of the nation’s oil refineries and the rest of the Southeast and the East Coast.
Gas-tracking firm GasBuddy last week activated their Gas Tracker and experts say the prices may continue to rise as the oil industry catches back up in terms of production and logistics.
“The impact could linger for several weeks or longer, depending on how long it takes Texas refiners to return to normal operations,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “In addition, the situation could worsen should more shutdowns or outages happen in the coming week as Harvey continues to drop a foot of rain on an already flooded Texas.”
The State of Emergency declaration lifts the federal hour-of-work limits but also makes it illegal for anyone to charge “unconscionable” prices for gasoline and other goods and services.
President Donald Trump on Aug. 25 issued a Major Disaster Declaration for portions of Texas and an Emergency Declaration for the state of Louisiana on Aug. 28.
In a news release on Sunday, the Colonial Pipeline Company said they continue to ship as much gasoline as is available from their Louisiana-based refineries and from refineries east of Lake Charles, Louisiana. And their gasoline lines between Houston and Herbert should be operational by Tuesday.
In Alabama, the average gas prices now stands at $2.48, according to Gas Buddy, which is up 35.4 cents from last week’s average and up 39.4 cents from last month’s average of $2.089.