Assemblymember Cahill Urges Governor Pataki to Declare a Fuel Emergency

September 2, 2005

Assembymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster and Dutchess Counties) joined with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Energy Committee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-Schenectady and Montgomery Counties) in urging immediate action to address skyrocketing gas prices.

"We are headed down the path to an energy crisis. Governor Pataki needs to step in and declare a fuel emergency before we get hit with shortages and even higher energy prices," Assemblymember Cahill said. "The State needs to look at all options for getting these costs under control, and soon," he continued.

The authority to declare a fuel emergency is granted to the Governor by Section 5-117 of New York Stateís Energy Law. Should the Governor declare a fuel emergency, the President of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) would be granted extraordinary powers with regards to energy allocation, production and consumption. NYSERDA would have the ability to allocate available energy supplies and energy resources throughout the state, with their first priority being the maintenance of public health and safety. A fuel emergency would also allow NYSERDA to impose restrictions on any wasteful, inefficient or non-essential use of energy or energy resources. Authority would also be granted to waive, for a period of up to thirty days, state and local environmental protection requirements to the extent necessary for emergency use of energy resources.

"This situation affects all New Yorkers. Whether it be Seniors on fixed incomes worrying about heating their homes this winter to our school administrators whose budgets canít handle this spike in transportation costs to hard working commuters with now even tighter household budgets, everyone is suffering from this and looking to the state and federal governments for a remedy," Mr. Cahill said. "Government and the private sector must take immediate measures to ease the burden, but we also need to get serious about investing in and researching alternative, sustainable fuel sources to avoid this situation in the future" he added.

"I join with my colleagues in calling on Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to be diligent in his investigation of possible price gouging, hoarding and collusion by oil companies," Assemblymember Cahill stated. The Assembly has also announced a series of hearings to investigate the skyrocketing increase in the price of gasoline, home heating oil and natural gas. "The citizens of New York must be assured that they are not being taken advantage of at the pump. Any company engaged in such illegal profiteering must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Mr. Cahill concluded.