Rita-Induced Refinery Shutdowns to Cause Even Higher Fuels Costs

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Just when Florida’s gas supply got back to normal and prices dropped below three dollars a gallon, a second major hurricane threatens to make the situation even worse.

Hurricane Rita is baring down on the energy capital of the country where 35 percent of the nation’s gas is refined.

Jim Smith, President of the Florida Petroleum and Convenience Store Association, says, “We’re gonna have situations where we’re going to have more out than have product, but it will be a rolling type situation like it has been.”

Floridians should feel the pinch in a couple of days. Gov. Jeb Bush is once again asking drivers to conserve.

“I would urge people to recommend this, not to hoard, not to top off every tank they have. We have a plan in place that we’re dealing with to bring (the) supply to our state.”

Half the state’s gas comes from the western Gulf where refineries have shut down, so state environmental officials are now working to get more gas from overseas.

With gas prices at almost three dollars a gallon, environmental and consumer advocates say the government should take action like it did in the 1970s when gas prices skyrocketed.

Mark Ferullo of the Florida Public Interest Research Group, says, “If we raised auto fuel efficiency standards to 40 miles per gallon, over the next few years we would save consumers $16 billion out of their pocket."

Consumer advocates hope this short-term problem will result in long-term energy solutions.