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Fried requests state of emergency for Florida

Nikki Fried
Lynne Sladky
FILE- In this Nov. 2, 2019, Nikki Fried, Democratic candidate for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, speaks during a campaign rally, in Miami. Fried, the only Democrat currently holding statewide office, has teased a June 1 date to publicly announce whether she will run for Florida governor. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

(Editor's note: This story has been updated with Gov. DeSantis' news conference today, and with the latest in gas prices.)

Florida’s agriculture commissioner is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency, due to the high cost of food and fuel.

“Floridians are also facing high prices at the pump and at grocery stores, making it hard to get to and from work, and to put food on their families’ tables; and to the governor, work with us to help the people of our state,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried, who also is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

An emergency declaration, she says, would give the Department of Agriculture the ability to suspend a law that requires gas stations to sell fuel at or above cost.

“We need to be doing everything possible to have lower prices for Floridians in need," she said. "And I’m eager to take this step to lower gas prices — which my department can only take during a state of emergency.”

Speaking in West Palm Beach Friday morning, the governor made no mention to Fried’s call for a state of emergency on food and fuel prices, and took no questions from the media.

Fried says most businesses that sell fuel make most of their money on other items, such as food, beer, and snacks. In a separate but related matter involving the agency’s oversight of fuel quality, she has issued an emergency rule to allow gas retailers to sell E-15 winter blend during the summer months.

“Which aims to increase our fuel supplies and allow customers more choice, to get lower prices,” Fried said. “We modeled our rule on a waiver issued by the Biden administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which paved the way for states like ours to take action allowing the continued use of the E-15.”

The commissioner also contends the order would also reduce dependency on foreign oil, along with moving the state toward all-renewable energy by 2050.

There is yet another reason for the state of emergency, Fried said.

As of Friday, Triple-A reports self-service regular averages a record $4.50 a gallon statewide, with the Pensacola area at $4.35 per gallon.

A recent law signed by the governor, who had not responded to Fried’s call as of Thursday, will suspend Florida’s gasoline tax in October.