Blog Pile

1973 Flashback: Where is the gas in Phoenix?

Lines at the gas stations, tempers flaring… Wow- it is almost a flashback to the 1973 oil embargo but this is 2003 in Phoenix, Arizona where a pipeline shutdown fuels gas shortage.

The events in ’73 are a bit fuzzy, but I recall my Dad waiting in long lines for hours to get gasoline that had spiked from 35 cents a gallon to (oh my gosh) more than $1.00 a gallon.

But Phoenix citizens cannot balme the oil cartel here, although theories abound on other conspiracy theories. IN a nutshell- all of the gasoline that is consumed (and much is) in Phoenix, arrives by fuel lines from the west (LA and imports) and the east (the big refineries in Texas). The problem is a rupture midway between Phoenix and Tucson in the 50 year old pipe for the Texas supply, normally 35% of what we consume.

Although the supply from the west has been beefed up considerably, the problem is not getting the fuel into town– it is getting from the pump stations into trucks and distributed to gas stations. There are also fishy rumors about the company that runs the pipeline- that they could have run it at 80% capacity after the break was addressed but decided to shut it down completely and other ideas about the delay of federal inspectors on the repair.

Combine a shortage of trucks, panic among citizens, and you see what I did today- most gas stations with pumps closed (no gas) and the few that did have lines 30-50 cars long, a reported 2-3 hour wait for gas priced anwyhere from $2 per gallon to $5 (price fluctuactions are always suspect, and by some coincidence, prices are always higher in Scottsdale, where the per capita income is higher- I live in the part of Scottsdale that helps keep that average low but pay for gas that scales to the monster SUV culture here).

Looks like a good class lesson in economics and public psychology/mob behavior (there is more….)

Here in the wild west he have no protection from price gauging- businesses are free to charge whatever prices they wish to. I guess they do.

Despite urges form the governor to keep calm, do not top off tanks, etc, there are fights breaking out in the lines (imagine waiting 2 hours to get gas and then find out the pumps are dry), and people are camping out for rumored delivery dates of more fuel.

The shorttage is epected to linger for weeks. Phoenix, a large mostly suburban, sprawling, little LA, is a CAR TOWN, everything is focused on the car, with limited public transportation.

I am fortunate, my commute is 11 miles, I have half a tank, and I will get back to my routine of commuting by bicycle and/or bus.

A rumor went around the office that the Q-Mart on the corner had gas (Sylvia phone from there that the line was only 4 cars long!). A bunch of us dashed over, only to find them closing up the pumps- they had run out that quickly. People were trying to cut off each other, driving in the exit lane, a regular Mad Max scene.

Now they are saying this shortages could be rippling for weeks here. The Chancellor of our system is usring cancellation of meetings that require travel. And what will students face when starting class next week?


And stupid, inept leadership once again in Arizona. Run Janet run.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.