Keep calm amid panic at the gas pumps

Published 11:32 am Monday, September 15, 2008

Just as gas prices started to decline in and around Pike County, Hurricane Ike blew into the Gulf of Mexico, prompting fears of supply shortages.

And in a matter of hours, prices spiked; panic spread; and a full-blown gas crisis was on hand.

By Friday afternoon, some local stations were out of gas. Requests for customers to limit themselves to 10 gallons per vehicle were unheeded by many, and prices locally had raised more than 50 cents a gallon at some pumps.

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And the situation was equally as out of control across the state, prompting Gov. Bob Riley to declare a state of emergency so that price-gouging laws could go into effect.

On Saturday, President Bush sought to reassure Americans that, despite the large number of refineries temporarily shut down due to the Ike, Environmental Protection Agency waivers on certain reformulated gasolines were suspended Friday night to make it easier for imports to get into U.S. markets, a move which might stem some supply shortages.

Meanwhile, emergency responders must determine the extent of damage to the oil refineries and drilling platforms. We likely won’t know until this week when production can resume.

Locally, we can simply call for calm and reason as the nation waits.

While some stations, particularly those who are not branded by major national suppliers such as Chevron or Exxon, may see some intermittent outages due to supply shortages, others should not, experts say. As consumers, we need to think and not react. We have to trust and believe that businesses are not going to try and take advantage of fears and perceived supply shortages to make a quick buck or two.

A little patience and faith could go a long way …