Gas Shortage and Rationing by OPA

In the early 1940s, cars were coming on the scene and gas was utilized more and more. However, due to World War II, the military’s demand for gas caused a shortage on the home front.

In the early 1940s, cars were coming on the scene and gas was utilized more and more. However, due to World War II, the military’s demand for gas caused a shortage on the home front.

Gas companies were drawing on their reserves and using the oil faster than they were finding it.
The partial solution seemed to be to use what they had very sparingly. Gas rationing became necessary and coupons were needed to buy gas. The allotment allowed a person to buy four gallons at a time and it depended on the mileage used. Coupons were mailed to the motorists. The coupon’s expiration date was about 15 months after they’d been issued. The allotment was later changed to two gallons weekly.

Black markets for gas appeared and the ration boards tried to stop them. The boards offered a new plan, hoping to eliminate ration coupon thefts. Soon, when a motorist went to buy gas they were required to show all their gasoline coupons as proof that they were valid. If all the coupons weren’t endorsed, the investigator explained the endorser’s importance, which was a move against the black market.

Any dealers handling coupons that weren’t endorsed had to appear to the local war price and rationing board within 10 days to show that all their coupons had been endorsed. A copy of the notice was then forwarded to the ration board and any motorist failing to comply was to have a hearing for the purpose of revoking their gasoline ration.

The check of coupons in the Kansas City area comprised 51 counties in western Missouri and three counties in Kansas.

Rural areas were hurt to a greater degree than the urban areas by gas rationing because many farmers needed the fuel to power their tractors.

— researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin