Another day, another dollar " higher | PostIndependent.com
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Another day, another dollar " higher

The line of vehicles waiting to get off the interstate is backed up for nearly a mile. There’s another long backup at the West Glenwood exit. Like sucking Silly Putty through a straw, the morning commute drags on.

In virtually every vehicle, one driver sits and waits. Just one.

Now that gas has cracked the $3 barrier, it should be a wake-up call for motorists. But there have been other wake-up calls, and as a society we continue to slap the snooze button.



Katrina is responsible for this wake-up call.

The $3 per gallon mark seemed impossible to most of us. But it’s here now.



And still we pile into our cars, trucks and SUVs, and take off to work and other destinations. We depend on our vehicles to take us places.

We all complain and express shock over the price of fuel but most do little but complain. In a free market, gas providers will continue to post the highest price they can, and as long as we support them, the price will remain high.

The days of sub-$2 a gallon prices are gone. Until we, as a society, change our driving habits and our dependency on fuel, filling up will be a drain to our wallets.

We all know the answers to reducing fuel needs. Car pool, mass transit, economic cars, drive less, drive less, drive less.

But we love our cars, trucks and SUVs. We all have excuses on why we drive one person to a car: have to leave work early, have to run some errands, need to haul tools, like the alone time, love doing drum solos on the steering wheel …

The images of Katrina’s aftermath have been stunning. Devastation and tragedy at every turn. The impacts of this hideous storm will linger for years.

For us, we saw the first impact here when the gas prices jumped 20, 30, 40 cents and more over a three-day period.

We complained, but we still drove.

Demand fuels pricing in virtually every aspect of our lives. Prices won’t plummet if we continue to support the gas industry.

As for Western Garfield County, a little thing called oil shale will be moving back to the top of the priority list, thanks to Katrina.

We can’t keep using fuel the way we are. It will be gone. Then what?

Is oil shale the answer? Hybrid vehicles? Alternative fuels?

The future is uncertain. The present offers some certainties ” high fuel prices.

Oil shale is a possibility and the boom that hit Rifle and Parachute in 1980 may once again return; actually, with the current state of fuel prices in America, there’s little doubt that another boom is in Rifle and Western Garfield County’s future.

In the early ’70s, there was a fuel scare, with gas rationing. In the late ’70s, there was a push to find alternative fuels. All through the ’90s gas prices inched their way upward. Then there was Sept. 11, 2001, and gas prices jumped. Then they broke the $2 mark and people were stunned.

History is like a bad meal ” it keeps repeating.

We’re stunned at the current state of gas prices, but we’ve been stunned before. The only constant has been our driving habits.

There’s no reason why one town charges so much more than another. But when we continue to support those prices, why should the prices come down?

The answer may be simple, but it’s wrought with excuses. We love our cars, trucks and SUVs. We love to drive. It’s part of our basic freedom.

Making a major change to one’s lifestyle is very difficult. Habits die hard.

Tomorrow, there will be another long line of commuters waiting to exit Interstate 70. Cars, SUVs and trucks packed with one per vehicle, enjoying their morning coffee and accepting that traffic is one of life’s sour pills, accepting that it sucks and complaining that gas prices are too high.

But refusing to shift gears.

Yes, $3 a gallon gave us a jolt, but did it do anything else?

Things have to change. Or do they?

Just remember ” changing driving habits is hard, but it can be a tankless job.

Dale Shrull is the managing editor of the Post Independent. Contact him at 945-8515, ext. 517; dshrull@postindependent.com.


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