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A Dirty Shame--UPDATED

Posted Sep 24 2008 11:52am

I noticed it Saturday morning when the biggest gas station in my soon-to-be-city had literally no gas. I checked out a few other stations, and lo and behold, no gas, apparently from oil refinery problems in the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Ike.

By Sunday night, most of Atlanta was gas-less. Having still three-quarters of a tank from more than a week before (thanks to bike riding, walking and the bus), I wasn't too worried. I was sure that gas deliveries were coming Monday morning and all would be back to "normal" here in the city with one of the longest average daily commutes in the United States.

Some gas was delivered, and Atlanta earned the designation of having the highest gas prices in the contiguous United States (that means everywhere in the country except Hawaii and Alaska). Turns out that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been requiring for a few years now that metro Atlanta gas have super-low sulfur as well as low evaporative emissions (apparently because of our terrible smog problems and poor air quality--lovely, huh?) This requirement has actually made a positive difference.

So by last night, with the gas shortage making national news (amidst the other headlines about the stock market, politics, war . . .), what solution do you think presented itself?

"Dirty gas." Yep, that's right. Governor Sonny Perdue has received a waiver from the EPA on the requirement for low-sulfur gas for metro Altanta. And, it appears as if this gas shortage will continue for about another two weeks. Two weeks! We've barely been able to make it a couple days!

No call for telecommuting, riding MARTA, biking, walking, carpooling, conserving. Not one article since Saturday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about these options. Just panicked reports about how many hours drivers waited in line, and where to find gas. Now, I'm not saying that's not important--getting around this city is hard without a car and many (if not most) people depend on their cars for work and life. But if there were ever an opportunity to say, point blank, "How we are living is clearly not working," this would have been it. Yet nothing.

It's a dirty shame.

UPDATE (Later the same morning)

Ah, finally. I just saw today's AJC article about the gas and it includes this:

Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley urged metro Atlanta drivers to conserve gas by teleworking, combining trips, carpooling and taking public transportation. Reducing demand seems to be the only quick fix, experts say.

Now, let's talk more about commute alternatives being more than a "quick fix"!
Nurturing sustainability close to home and around the world. (And other food for thought!)

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