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Monday, June 09, 2008

$4 Gas Hitting Rural South Hard

Things are tough all over, and everybody's hurting, thanks to our lack of any sort of forward looking energy plan (other than the plan to redistribute massive amounts of wealth from the poor, middle-class and well-off to the oil companies the GOP is so beholden to), but the rising gas prices are hitting those in the rural south especially hard.

From a NY Times article this morning, with a dateline from Tchula, MS:
Gasoline prices reached a national average of $4 a gallon for the first time over the weekend, adding more strain to motorists across the country.

But the pain is not being felt uniformly. Across broad swaths of the South, Southwest and the upper Great Plains, the combination of low incomes, high gas prices and heavy dependence on pickup trucks and vans is putting an even tighter squeeze on family budgets.

Here in the Mississippi Delta, some farm workers are borrowing money from their bosses so they can fill their tanks and get to work. Some are switching jobs for shorter commutes.

People are giving up meat so they can buy fuel. Gasoline theft is rising. And drivers are running out of gas more often, leaving their cars by the side of the road until they can scrape together gas money.

The disparity between rural America and the rest of the country is a matter of simple home economics. Nationwide, Americans are now spending about 4 percent of their take-home income on gasoline. By contrast, in some counties in the Mississippi Delta, that figure has surpassed 13 percent.

As a result, gasoline expenses are rivaling what families spend on food and housing.
This is a crime against Americans, and all Bush, McCain, and assorted GOP apologists can offer as a "solution" is to go up into ANWR and drill there. While this may indeed provide some short-term relief to the oil companies, suffering as they are under the burden of record profits, it would do little to nothing with regard to easing the pain on American consumers:
If drilling were permitted in the ANWR, it would take 10 years for production to start and would only produce 876,000 barrels of oil a day during peak of production. The amount of oil in ANWR would only increase the amount of oil reserve in the world reserve by 0.3% and there is not enough oil to make a slight difference in the world oil price. ANWR would produce about 3.3% of daily consumption of oil in America and we would still be dependent on foreign oil. Secondly, economic models predict an average of 55,000 new jobs from drilling. Thirdly, although oil companies predicted drilling and exploration of oil would only occur over 2000 acres, this figure is deceiving because it only takes into account the space where the equipments touch the ground.

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