Gas shortage inquiry asked (8-25-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 25, 1941)


President signs measure to expedite pipeline

Washington, Aug. 25 (UP) –
The American Automobile Association today demanded a Congressional investigation of the oil “famine” on the Eastern Seaboard to end:

…manhandling of the situation and irresponsible statements from groups and interests…

The AAA demand strengthened the chances for approval of a resolution pending in the Senate Commerce Committee to authorize an examination of the disputed oil shortage. Committee Chairman Josiah W. Bailey (D-NC) predicted last week that his group would approve the legislation, which is sponsored by Senator Francis T. Maloney (D-CT).

Thomas P. Henry, president of the AAA, charged motorists have been:

…humbugged from day to day with conflicting statements as to gasoline reserves.

…and do not know what to believe.

He charged that the voluntary conservation program was not given a “fair chance” to operate before the 7 p.m.–7 a.m. curfew was applied to 100,000 filling stations on the Atlantic coast. Additionally, he added, the government ordered a 10% cut on deliveries before the effectiveness of the nightly “blackout” was measured.

Oil Coordinator Harold L. Ickes and Price Administrator Leon Henderson are paying “little or no attention” to increases in the price of gasoline in the 17-state area affected by the alleged shortage, Mr. Henry contended.

Mr. Henry objected to a recent statement by Deputy Oil Co-ordinator Ralph K. Davies that supplies were sufficient for only 10 days as “misleading.” He argued that:

Millions of people took this to mean that there would be no more gasoline after that period.

President Roosevelt acted today to relieve the gasoline shortage by signing a proclamation delegating the right of eminent domain to a projected pipeline to connect the East Coast with Louisiana’s oil fields.

Mr. Roosevelt’s proclamation permits the Plantation Pipeline Co., a Delaware corporation, to exercise the right of eminent domain in acquiring a right of way between Baton Rouge, La., and Greensboro, NC.

Projected originally the pipeline has been designed to deliver first 48,000 barrels daily, and finally 60,000 barrels. With installation of additional pumping stations, its delivery potential may be stepped up to 90,000 barrels daily. If devoted solely to transport of gasoline, the line would deliver more than enough fuel to meet half of the consumption requirements of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.

One official of the Oil Coordinators’ office said fuel oil consumption jumps 10% to 12% on the East Coast with the approach of winter. To ease the situation, oil companies are making a survey of their customers to see which industrial plants, now using oil, could switch to coal, it was said. Various estimates have been made that a 15% cut in consumption could be achieved in this manner. Some suggestions have been made that house temperatures be reduced five degrees to bring about a 10% saving.