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Tale of Two Hearings: House Subcommittee Hearings Review Recent Hurricanes

RaceTrac Petroleum, Inc.’s chief supply officer, Max McBrayer, testifies at House hearing.
November 3, 2017

​WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing on “the 2017 Hurricane Season:  A Review of Emergency Response and Energy Infrastructure Recover Efforts.”  There were two panels of witnesses. The first panel included government witnesses from the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, General Accounting Office and the Texas Public Utilities Commission. The second panel consisted of private sector witnesses from the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, RaceTrac Petroleum, Inc., Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, a former member of the Puerto Rico Senate, and National Nurses United.

From witness testimony and the questions from members of the committee, there was a clear contrast between response and recovery efforts after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma from Hurricane Maria. In the case of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, witnesses consistently shared how well state, federal and local governments and the private sector communicated and coordinated response, recovery and rebuilding efforts. In stark contrast, on a bipartisan basis, witnesses and members expressed their frustration and outrage at the lack of quick response and the slow recovery and rebuilding effort in Puerto Rico—especially with restoring electricity.

Representing the convenience and fuel retailing industry, Max McBrayer, Chief Supply Officer and Chief Financial Officer for RaceTrac Petroleum, Inc., shared with the committee how fuel retailers prepared, responded and helped in recovery efforts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He discussed the unique circumstances in each severe weather event and how it affected fuel supply and the delivery of gasoline to customers. He also shared recommendations to improve recovery efforts in the future—such as better communication, including social media, to the public about the availability of fuel supply and encouraging to be prepared and avoid panic purchases. His full testimony is included here.