September 29th, 2008
10:19 AM ET

Letter to Any Politician Who Gives a 'You Know What'

 To Any Politician Who Gives a 'You Know What:'

Hello. I am a correspondent with CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. My family and I are also residents of Atlanta, Georgia. My question for you: Are Atlanta and nearby regional cities such as Charlotte and Nashville part of America?

The reason I ask is this: We have almost no gasoline, while almost all other cities in the United States have all the gasoline they want.

We are spending hours cruising the streets and highways looking for gas. Only a small percentage of stations have fuel and you never know who will have it.

Many gas station owners jack up their prices and scores of vehicles lining up are creating dangerous driving conditions on clogged streets and highways.

People cut in line, either accidentally or on purpose, and tempers flare. Violence is always a possibility.

Now, I remember back in the early 70's and the late 70's when the whole nation suffered like this. But we suffered collectively, as a nation.

Now, it's only our small region of the country suffering. The experts say it's because of supply problems as a result of the hurricanes. Never mind that Houston and Dallas, two cities much closer to Ike have gas.

We are expected to chill and not worry. I say that because some of our local politicians insist that this is not a major problem and that people are "panicking." Hey, I'm as calm as can be. But I am angry at the lack of understanding.

I hate to tell you political leaders who don't drive your own cars all that much, but this is a major problem. In the last week, I have traveled to Miami, New York City, and Anchorage, Alaska and watched enviously as drivers got gas easily with no wait.

So here's my thought: Since we're all part of America, maybe some of our national politicians can get us some gas. I figure if this was happening in Washington (or places like New York or LA) for that matter, this wouldn't be allowed to happen.

Meanwhile, maybe some of the politicians in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, can get a little more worked up - whether they agree or not - about something that is causing much havoc in their states.

If y'all don't think it worth helping us, perhaps we'll vote you out. That is, if we have the gas to make it to the polls.

Gary Tuchman
AC360 Correspondent

Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Gas Prices • Oil
soundoff (278 Responses)
  1. Lauren

    I am going to try to say this as nicely as possible, which will be difficult. I live in Houston and am a native. We have been going through the most diffcult history in our lives, and to read this story and the comments attached to it are pathetic.

    2 million people lost power before Ike ever hit, I was one of them. There are still over 100,000 people in this city that do not have power, proper food, water, ice or gas. I myself was without power for 7 days. My family and I had to drive 3 hours, the day after Ike, just to get more food and supplies and yes that includes gas.

    We have endured long gas lines, long food lines, long water lines, and long ice lines and NOBODY seems to care. Our own State isn't helping and FEMA (once again) has done next to nothing. Our beach communities have been wiped out. There are 10's of thousands of people who don't have homes, jobs, electricity, water, food, ice or gas, but you don't get to see it. The national news has found your story to be better than ours.

    I think that you all need to do what we did, and start being patient and take care of each other. We have had to endure a situation much worse than yours and it isn't over for a lot of us.

    The reason we have gas now and you don't, is simply that the power was out in the pipelines that send gas from us to you. 2/3 of the pipelines are back up and they are doing EVERYTHING they can to get you your gas as quickly as possible.

    Be patient and stop your crying.

    September 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  2. Christi

    I concur with Mr. Tuchman.
    I'm thinking one solution is to oust all the established politicians every voting opportunity. We can eradicate the complacency and the apathy that seems to come over folks when they get to DC. They (especially GWB) forget who put them there and what their purpose is...to look out for the citizens of this country.
    They stink of corruption and arrogance.
    I'm not one to complain unless I can do a better job myself. At this point I think my cat would do a better job than those greedy, demoralized freaks. How did they get so out of touch with our reality? We as citizens really need to be proactive and do a better job of researching those we put into office. Let's be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

    September 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  3. Ray

    this mess will not be fixed till the people in power go through what we are going through. as americans, we are asleep. we let them get away with corruption and greed. then reward them with big bonuses. it has to end now. they are bringing us and the country to its knees. everybody i talk to is worried about housing, bank accounts, jobs. life is stressful, that is a given. but what is going on is man made. through deceit. i have lost faith in the system. it is not for the people. i speak to newly arrived cubans. they are saying, this is getting no different than communist cuba. only over there, you know how things are. here it is all behind our backs. i have asthma and disabled. it is getting to the point, i have to make the meds last 2 or 3 months as opposed to each month. come on washington. stop with the b.s. speeches. looks like all politicians are used car salesmen. next time i vote, will see who is there. good or not, you are out. only way to clean house. since you all lie anyway. my sons mom is losing her home, my moms cannot afford meds, i cannot afford meds. my sons uncle wants to come here from colombia. i tell him forget it. stay where you are. if this keeps up we will be in worse shape than any third world nation.

    September 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  4. Cyndi

    The stations have gas and most have had it all along.. In NC we have the price gouging law and they will not sell it unless they get triple the price and since the law won't let them raise it, they are saying Suck it! drivers...so we are. Sen. Heath Shuler came thru for us Friday and had several tankers brought into Asheville from Tennessee. There for awhile we had no gas at all, at least now, you can find it but at a price of $4.29.
    The stations in a near by town of Old Fort jacked their prices up on the Wednesday two days before Hurricane Ike even hit.....it was $3.69 and by two o'clock they were at $4.99! Schmucks!

    September 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  5. Susan in Charlotte

    Thank you Gary!! Well said.

    This is as phony as the gas shortage in the 70s. All the attention is on the bailout, but lack of gas to get to work and school will take down the economy also.

    Exactly right about officials seeming unconcerned. They just tell us that large shipments are coming and then say that it will take 2 more days to get delivered to the stations. Lines are longer than before. Could this lack of attention to the problem be because our president is an oilman? Watch for prices to go even higher in Charlotte after the supply is fixed. We are already above the national average.

    September 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  6. Scott

    I live in Houston, TX, and have been without power for two solid weeks following hurricane Ike. As I read about your difficulties in Atlanta, I know how tough it can be. I also can't help but wonder, as our financial markets continue crashing, with big businesses failing almost daily, with loans increasingly difficult to obtain, how much longer until we wake up and realize we're actually living in a 3rd world country.

    Interesting times.

    September 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  7. docrock.tx

    If this is not economic terrorism at work,there ain't a cow in Texas.I wish some intrepid reporter would see if he can find even one politician with no gas.When the Market,Banks,and Corporations wre given free reign,Middle Class Americans were doomed to pay for the excesses of Corporate America's "C.E.O. Mentality".With the astounding nuber of tax breaks for big business(read oil companies),the only people left to pay taxes are you and me brother.Refineries cost money to build,which cuts the size of bonuses and dividends.Vote evry one of them out of office.

    September 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  8. Bean

    Such a crybaby... I'm in Atlanta, and I just stopped by gas station downtown, and had to wait all of 5 minutes in line. Yeah there's a shortage, Yeah you have to wait to get gas, but at least we still have gas! Its not the fed govt's job to keep everyone from having to wait in line. If it's that big of a problem, just use public transportation!

    September 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  9. Nashvillian

    Interesting how quick people are to judge and toss out spiteful comments based on the "color" of one's state.

    Tennessee and Georgia may be "red" states, yet Nashville and Atlanta, the areas suffering most from these outages, are "blue" cities.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  10. tylergh

    Also,you might not know this, becuase of what the media wants you to hear or not to hear! Yes ,we are busy drilling wells here in Texas but what they don't tell you how many oil wells are pluged off and or are flow regulated by Legislation our current leaders in congress and the house have created, Yep,thats right ! less than1/2 of the wells get used. I know I drill them!! and plug them! So Prove me wrong ! Why the wells are being capped? WE HAVE TO BUY OIL FROM SOMEONE BECAUSE WE CAN'T USE OURS

    September 29, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  11. Brown

    Why is everything that matters to the American people being ignored? They say the price of gas is high because the dollar is weak, and the dollar is weak because of the this mortgage meltdown. Hears an Idea, Increase regulation on energy as well as the financial markets, bailout both the American people and the Banks. Shore up the banks risk and Introduce a cap on home loan interest rates for future and existing loans at 6% and lower, and a 12% cap on credit cards. This should strengthen the dollar, keep people in there homes, and get us out spending again. This way the tax payer see some relief up front.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  12. Dave (from Augusta, Ga)

    Quit your crying. Make a few cutbacks on your fuel consumption until distribution levels back out and be glad you live in the greatest country in the world. You don't believe that? I'll gladly purchase you a one way ticket to an alternate country. I hear Afghanistan has plenty of fuel.
    Cry babies.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  13. Nick

    For those of you who are laying the blame on the current administration and the fact that Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina are RED states, let me remind you that both the House and Senate have been led by the Democrats for almost two years now. In those two years, no substantial legislation has been passed to help the average American citizen who is working hard to support their famiy. In 2006 the Democrats hailed that change would finally be coming now that they had control of the House and Senate. Empty promises. The only thing I've seen accomplished is that they adjourned the Congress for 5 weeks of vacation without passing any energy legislation that was on the table and they certainly ensure they get their pay raise voted in when it comes due.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  14. Ms. Ferguson

    THANK YOU!!! I have been wondering why there hasn’t been any national news coverage of this CRISIS. Sonny Perdue has the nerve to be in Europe and BLAMES US for the problem before he trots off to his boondoggle. I want the nation to know that we are NOT being greedy, there is simply NO GAS. And when there is gas, the greedy gas station owners limit you to 20 bucks, but then raise the prices – I paid 4.39 for regular on Sunday. So, that only gives you a little over 4 gallons which causes you to hunt for gas in another day or two. Most folks in GA commute and MUST fill up once a week. The ATL news media will have you believe that we are panicking, but that is a LIE. I waited until I was way less than 1/4 a tank and I STILL had to hunt gas for TWO hours. Another game the gas stations owners are playing is forcing us to pay cash. By doing that, they only give you a cash receipt – so there is no evidence of what you paid for the gas. Luckily, I was paying attention and I have my gas receipt, but how many Georgians are in a hurry, rushing or nervous from the violence that has been breaking out at the pumps? I made my complaint this morning and I hope the gas station gets fined!!! I HOPE ALL ARE WATCHING AND VOTE THEIR INTEREST COME NOVEMBER!!!!!!

    I filled up on Boulevard in Atlanta and it was 4.39. These gas station owners jack up their prices and force you to pay cash in hopes that you won’t ask for a gas receipt and that way, you can’t report them for price gouging. This is real. Believe it.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  15. ed

    hold it the first thing "gas crisses" is caused by thoose that panic buy and still doing that..
    second lets put blame where it belongs that being on the EPA and the enviromental wack-jobs that say no building refineries .... last refinery was built in 75 ... since then they have closed down many of them due to the factr they cant be updated ...the trouble is here is that the demand is higher now for many reasons one is the diffrent blends of gas in parts of the country.. second the ones that make gas also make heating oil ... so you have say 8 refineries now working 24/7 360 days of the yr... of the 50 or so that we once had so you have ton of oil coming in ton in demand and you have a funnel that only can handle 1/3 of that being refined .....

    September 29, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  16. PhillR

    You are upset because congress ignored Atlanta's gas problem? Are you kidding me? There is a financial crisis going on that could make the Great Depression look like a day at the beach, and you think gas lines in Atlanta should be elevated to a national level?

    Listen up middle America. You just got your representatives to vote against the bailout, and you are worried about gas? Watch your 401ks, pensions, credit, children's educations, roads and jobs disappear in the coming months.

    When China sells off its Treasury holdings, and the dollar collapses and oil prices double, and farmers are exporting their food to Asia while you stand in a soup line, talk to me about your oil shortage in Atlanta then.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  17. Gabe in Asheville NC

    Well, I'm having to cancel things left and right because there is just NO gas. All the stations near me are closed and they have no idea when they will have gas again. I thought I'd wait for things to improve and heard rumors (and read in the paper) that the shortage would be over this past Friday. Now it's the end of Monday and no gas in sight. What a mess.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  18. Scott

    I think this particular shortage, is being made worse by people who are wasting gas foraging around for it. We all know there isn't going to be an increase in supply for at least another week, so we either need to carpool or use bikes or other alternative transportation. if you use a truck lower the tail gate, if you use an SUV unload it and try to get people to carpool with you if possible. This is a local problem if the locals don't work to fix it, what exactly is capitol hill supposed to do?

    September 29, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  19. aisling

    I'm getting really tired of all the snark from the people who don't have to deal with this problem. Yes, Georgia is unfortunately a red state. Does that mean we all voted Republican? NO. Does that mean Republicans deserve to be "punished" by being ignored, just because they exercised their right to vote? alas, NO.
    Yes, alternative fuel should be a priority, as should public transportation. Does that mean everyone who drives a car is just a selfish arse in an SUV? NO. Atlanta is a major international hub. It's a huge sprawl of a city. Yes, it was poorly planned out with regards to transportation, because it boomed too fast after the Olympics. The fact of the matter is that Atlanta is a worker city. Most of the people who live here are here because of jobs, not because of culture or some great love of the place. Which means we live in the sprawl, because that's what's affordable and livable. Which then means we're required to drive to get places.
    I agree that people could increase their carpooling and fuel frugality. But it's not the immediate catch-all answer, and neither is changing one's political leanings. I personally absolutely CANNOT carpool for my job. Nor can I walk or ride MARTA or bicycle to work, nor can I telecommute. It's the life of an independent contractor, and believe me, there are lots of us here. Buy a Prius? Don't make me laugh. I can't afford one, or any of the hybrids out there. Even with hybrids and motorcycles, we still have to fuel up. And, oh, I voted blue, btw. See what that got me.
    THE POINT of this article, is that we're supposed to be the UNITED States. Except for the southeast, I guess.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  20. mari

    No shortage here ....Northern Michigan ..........gas is $3.81

    September 29, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  21. Stephanie

    On my daily commute, I drive thru the largest concentration of petro-chem plants in the western hemisphere. These refineries have the capability (and are actually required by law) to shut down completely in less than 10 minutes. It's not nearly so easy to turn the spigot back on. As I sat in total darkness without power, water or even food, I could see the glow of these refinieries...they were back up and running as soon as they could.

    These men and women left their homes full of water and mud to bring production back up as soon as possible. It didn't matter to them where it was going (Texas/Georgia/California).

    Now, we had shortages here a few days before and several days after Ike struck. Things are almost back to normal with regards to fuel...

    Unfortunately, whatever boutique fuel you guys are required to burn in the Southeast, is in short supply. There is no conspiracy...too many people after too few gallons. Now, perhaps if ya'll didn't suffer from the "anywhere but my backyard" syndrome, you'd have access to more fuel. Maybe not.

    With regards to why no more refineries have been built in the past 30 years, check "crack spread" – see if you'd wanna invest your money on those razor thin margins with the federal government breathing down your neck everyday. I think not. The crack spread was acutally pretty darn good for about 18 months...not so much these days.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  22. GT, Charlotte

    To those who have essentially told us gas starved citizens to "suck it up"-we have been. We have carpooled, reduced trips, and reduced our gas purchases. It is not about people panicking and hoarding gas-it is about people being on empty and not being able to find any. It is about people not getting to work, families not being able to do activities, businesses suffering from lack of sales. This situation is not days old-it is weeks old. Our frustration is amplified because it is a localized problem that can be fixed, but has not been. None of the leaders at the local, state or federal level have adequately addressed the problem-there is blame to go around for everyone.
    To those that have expressed sympathy-thanks for your understanding. To those that do not-you should be ashamed.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  23. James Brown

    Why do the southern states that could allow off shore drilling are the only group impacted by the gas shortage? Maybe to get you to vote for offshore drilling or to encourage us to solve a problem started in the 1970's.

    I would say to get us to support offshore drill. Please tell me I am not right cause I want to be wrong so bad.

    Please note, NY, Washington DC, and NJ all have gas. Their gas comes from Texas and passes through GA and most of the southern states that are out of gas.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  24. ellie

    This is worse than 1979 and Katrina...At least in 1979 in Florida, they let odd numbered license plates in the gas stations on odd numbered days and even plates on even numbered dates, so the "competition" to find some gas was less! Since the 14th in Atlanta, I have only found one station I could make it to the pump before they ran out...they limited us to $20 and that's a little over 41/2 gals @ $4.29 a gallon. The only driving I'm doing is going to work and an occasional trip to find gas...

    September 29, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  25. Mike

    You all have my sympathies, but isn't this the free market at work? The free market will guarantee adaquate supply and infrastructure in order to meet demand and maximize sales and profits, right? Or is that all just a line used to convince people not to regulate and let business do as it may? Maybe some regulation might have helped insure a more robust supply chain? Ah, but we can't have government interfere with the markets!

    Seriously...consider this gas mess, the financial markets, and what would have become of Social Security if it had been privatized. Government has a role, and should be made to work for us. To do that, it must *listen* to us, but we must think for ourselves!

    That said, I hope this situation get resolved for everyone soon...

    September 29, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  26. Tommy D.

    I currently have family down in ATL affected by the shortage. I think I have figured out where the gas has gone – our muslim Democratic candidate for President (yes, the same one that refuses to wear an American flag pin for fear of offending those who hate and despise our country) is hoarding it to use in his jihad attempt on the White House!

    September 29, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  27. brett

    since when is it the government's responsibility to take care of us????? We are all adults, at least most people claim to be. What happen to being prepared or having alternate means in case of what if? I do not and have never cried to the government, mom and dad or anyone else when a hurricane destroyed my house and car, was with out power for weeks. I learned from the experience. Fixed my stuff myself. Put together a plan incase something like that a happened agian and moved on. I now live in Atlanta and either walk, ride my bike or take mass transit to save gas. I planned a head. I think all you folks that are crying need to reach down and grow some and quit looking for someone to help you and help yourselves!!!!!

    September 29, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  28. ML

    i've heard that word all week here in Atlanta. I'm one of many Atlantans that did not panic and didn't stock up on gas. however, that doesn't help me at the start of another work week, and reports that this situation will last another 2 weeks. Sonny Perdue does nothing about the issue of public transit and traffic besides paving more roads. His lack of vision in public transit is one of many reasons i did not vote for him.

    September 29, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
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