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Expert Warns of ‘Gunfire’ If Gas Shortages Continue

Javier E. David | Special to CNBC.com
Friday, 2 Nov 2012 | 11:19 AM ET

Long lines snaking around gas stations in New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy could "get to gunfire" if officials don't impose fuel rationing, an affordable energy advocate told CNBC Friday.

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John Hofmeister, head of Citizens for Affordable Energy told CNBC that the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut should resort to dramatic measures to prevent the inconvenience from spiraling into further chaos or violence.

"This could get to gunfire if it continues in the way it's going now," warned Hofmeister, the former CEO of U.S. Oil, on CNBC's "Squawk Box". The leaders of the Tri-State area should "come together, go to an odd/even rationing plan, to cut the demand in half every day" much like during the fuel issues of the 1970s.

The Crude Realities of Long Gas Lines
John Hofmeister, Citizens for Affordable Energy, shares his view on when motorists can expect to see relief at the pumps.

Amid widespread power outages across both New York and New Jersey, the combination of flaring tempers and increasingly dire conditions threaten to turn certain areas into a tinderbox.

Hofmeister called the rationing plan an "unpopular choice" given the imperative of telling consumers how much gas they can buy. Still, he warned, "the alternative is you're going to be carrying bodies off of floor courts. I'm concerned about that, and you can't put a policeman at every port because they have other things to do."

Storm-ravaged New Jersey appears to be the hardest hit by the gas problems. On Thursday, Colonial Pipeline, a conduit that supplies about 15 percent of the East Coast's gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, said it had resumed deliveries at its Linden facility in New Jersey and began sending deliveries to a nearby terminal.

Gas merchants and law enforcement officials are struggling to manage skyrocketing demand for fuel after the storm disrupted gas supplies around the region, amid reports of frayed nerves and widespread shortages.

Although some areas are seeing the resumption of gas shipments, no immediate end appeared in sight. (Read more: Why East Coast Gas Shortages May Not End for a Week.)

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