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A girl holds jerry cans while waiting in line at a gas station in Hazlet township, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images

The federal government said Friday it would establish its first regional energy reserves in the Northeast to provide gasoline to homes and businesses in case of a supply disruption. The move signals the Department of Energy is reexamining its strategy after the havoc caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Two Northeast reserve locations, near New York Harbor and in New England, will be established, and they will store 500,000 barrels of gasoline each, which the Department of Energy says is enough to provide short-term relief in the event of a major supply disruption. The approximately $215 million project is intended to supply households through five hurricane seasons, officials said.

Hurricane Sandy damaged refineries, terminals and left gasoline stations without power, causing severe gasoline shortages across the region in 2012. Some gas stations were left without fuel for as long as 30 days, and officials said the new reserves would safeguard against a similar catastrophe.

“The sudden, massive gas supply shortage after Superstorm Sandy resulted in interminable line, panic and delivered a gut shot to the region’s economy,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said in an Energy Department statement announcing the new reserves. “That’s why we called for regionally-placed reserves to ensure an uninterrupted fuel supply in the event of future storms like Sandy.”

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the reserves were part of an Obama Administration effort to “better prepare for the effects of climate change we already see occurring here at home.”

As part of the government’s review of energy resources, the Energy Department will conduct a series of studies to analyze the vulnerability of energy supply in different parts of the country to weather-related natural disasters.

The government already has reserves of diesel fuel in the Northeast, but the new supply would presumably allow home- and auto-owners to get through a supply disruption. The reserves would not, however, address the widespread loss of electric power caused by Hurricane Sandy.

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