Thursday, October 02, 2008


Another Gasoline Shortage

The recent gasoline shortage in the Southeast appears to be easing. Many of the gas stations I pass on the way to work have long lines of cars waiting to fill up, but that is an improvement over the past few weeks, when there were no lines because there was no gas for sale.

I drive about 90 miles per day to/from work, so I need to fill up a couple of times per week. Searching for gas and waiting in lines had become a significant part of my life. Once, I got lucky and just happened to see a tanker truck pulling into a station while I was driving to work, so I got to rush in and be at the head of the line, but that kind of luck is rare.

Three years ago, after Katrina, we had a similar gas shortage, but that one did not last nearly as long. Most people are blaming our governor for waiting too long to request exemptions that would allow less-environmentally-friendly gasoline to come into Georgia. Of course, the truth is much more complicated than that. Two hurricanes hit the gulf in rapid succession. The zealous quest for efficiency by oil companies means that they don't maintain surplus inventory, and so any hiccup screws everything up. Threats to prosecute suppliers for "gouging" means that those suppliers have no incentive to take extraordinary measures to increase the supply.

Having a transportation system reliant upon supply and transport of fuel increasingly seems like a dumb idea. Where are our electric cars, already?

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