State issues emergency rule to ease gas crunch in wake of South Florida floods
Drivers wait in line for gasoline in Altamonte Springs, Fla., ahead of the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Irma, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Irma roared into the Caribbean with record force early Wednesday, its 185-mph winds shaking homes and flooding buildings on a chain of small islands along a path toward Puerto Rico, Cuba and Hispaniola and a possible direct hit on densely populated South Florida. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Hurricane Irma
Closed service stations with 'no gas' signs fuel fresh round of political posturing.

Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson issued an emergency rule to help ease the fuel shortage caused by South Florida’s flooding,.

A news release the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued blamed the feds for the holdup.

“Florida finally receives (Environmental Protection Agency) waiver requested by Gov. (Ron) DeSantis and Commissioner Simpson,” the release says.

Earlier this month, a meteorological event that is being called a “rain bomb” shattered the state’s record for rainfall within a 24-hour period. The deluge closed Port Everglades for 36 hours.

The port is the hub for 40% of the state’s gasoline distribution. The downpour caused a backlog of demand, but not all the gas terminals were operating a week after the flood.

Some DeSantis surrogates were on Twitter blaming South Florida’s panic-buying for gas stations running out of fuel, but the FDACS release argued fault lies with the feds’ delay in giving the state permission to access a larger market of available fuel.

The Governor and the Commissioner Wednesday asked for the waiver to allow the fuel industry greater flexibility to sell winter blend fuel until May 1 in Broward County, it was explained in the Friday release announcing the new fuel being made available.

The EPA waiver issued Friday “is a good step in the right direction,” Simpson said in a prepared statement. “While it falls short of the state’s request to waive the requirement in counties where key ports and transportation routes are located, there is still time for the Biden Administration to expand the waiver.”

Media outlets showed pictures of motorists in lines that snaked around blocks. The Division of Emergency Management sent 500,000 gallons of fuel that started to arrive on Tuesday, as a real-time blog on showed shortages peaked Tuesday, when 63.5% of service stations in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area were out of gas.

The situation was frustrating enough that Sen. Marco Rubio took to Twitter to vent. He stopped short of pinning the blame on anyone, but recorded a video of himself on Wednesday declaring, “This should have been figured out by now.”

Not much later, Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott issued his own call to arms because of the situation.

“Every resource available should be deployed to fix this,” he said on Twitter, retweeting the GasBuddyGuy’s take on the situation.

The Florida Democratic Party, meanwhile, seemed to be taking credit for Republicans’ awareness of the situation. The party also sought to fuel a recollection that DeSantis issued a state of emergency for the flooding from out of state, as he visited the presidential battleground state Ohio.

“The comments from Scott and Rubio come after Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried hosted a press conference with local leaders and impacted individuals in Fort Lauderdale earlier this week to slam DeSantis for traveling out of state while people in South Florida continued to deal with the catastrophic flooding, “ the release said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • DeSantis is a failed leader

    April 21, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    this is more failed leader ship from the governor in the state of Florida. If he was paying attention to what they need to Florida or instead of going around the country, trying to play political theater, Floridians would be better off.

    Or maybe not because it’s obvious that DeSantis doesn’t know how to lead he only knows how to play theater

  • Suggest something better

    April 21, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    You are right, we need better leadership like Biden’s administration is providing. Hahaha

  • David T. Hawkins

    April 21, 2023 at 2:38 pm

    How did DeSantis fail. they had 24″ of rain in less that 12 Hours, most of that area is covered in Asphalt and Buildings so the water had no where to go. The Gas Companies don’t deliver Gas until it gets ordered and the Tankers couldn’t get to the stations because of the Floods so, how is any of that the Governors fault?

    In the last 3 Days, Gas has jumped .45 Cents. I now fill up when I reach a half tank because I don’t know when the next jump in price will be.

    • Jose Fonseca

      April 21, 2023 at 10:18 pm

      Now is great time to get a Tesla.

      • Ruy

        April 21, 2023 at 11:56 pm

        And how is your Tesla recharged? Electricity, that’s right. And what type of fossil fuels are used to produce electricity? Ahhhh

  • Yep

    April 22, 2023 at 9:54 am

    Charged from the solar panels on my roof. It is great making my own “gas”.
    Ruy – don’t you see the solar panels as you drive around in your pollution machine? The grid is getting greener every day. Time to change with the times and get out of that gas line.

  • PeterH

    April 23, 2023 at 10:09 am

    Marco Rubio:

    “This should have been figured out by now.”

    Well Marco ….. like me …. you live in South Florida! The difference here is that you’re in charge of Florida governance! Did you call CAMPAIGN DeSantis to ask him what State he was in when the five day rain event happened?

Comments are closed.


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