Some sanity was restored to gasoline markets today, in which patches of good news allowed a more level-headed assessment of the size of the logistical challenges ahead. Both hope and despair can be found on the human dimension of the problem as well.
Yesterday’s new policy announcements on the SPR and fuel standards were certainly welcome news. Outside the Beltway (cross-posted in
Deinonychus antirrhopus) also finds a lot to be cheered by in today’s news:
The Colonial Pipeline is back online. This is good news as far as getting gasoline out of the New Orleans area. The Capline pipeline also resumed operations on Wednesday as well. The Valero St. Charles refinery has restored power and a quarter of the workers there have returned. Also, Chevron’s Pascagoula, Miss. refinery has avoided catastrophic damage, but is still offline. From what I’ve read Port Fourchon and the LOOP are also not nearly badly damaged as were feared and the biggest hurdle appears to be getting electrical power restored. In fact, the LOOP restored pumping operations yesterday.
Fistful of Euros also notes that Germany and Spain are about to send us some gasoline from their emergency stockpiles. Please remember that, fellow Americans, the next time you want to gripe, “why didn’t they help us when…”
The market seemed more impressed with the good news than the bad, with October crude futures falling $2 today to under $68 a barrel and October gasoline down 22 cents a gallon to $2.18. Panicked drivers who filled their tanks at $5 or $6 a gallon got what they deserved, since this kind of behavior makes any problem much worse– if a large number of drivers decide that their tanks need to be full rather than half-full, that produces a huge surge in demand that would put a strain on the system even if there was no supply problem at all.
Although the logistical problems with fuel supply are amenable to rational plans for coping, I can’t help but feel frustrated by the slow progress within the city of New Orleans itself. I’m haunted by the words of Kash at Angry Bear: “These do not sound like stories written about the United States.” And of course, the stories themselves are indisputably haunting.
One of the questions I want to ask is how much sense it makes to be herding people like cattle or refugees into the Superdome and the Astrodome. Surely a superior vision would be if those without relatives or friends might be dispersed and welcomed in twos and threes into individual homes across America; I suppose the tricky issue there is how to make sure that the visit is strictly temporary. It appears that
HurricaneHousing.org, a civic action arm of MoveOn.org, is by far the most organized here, where you can click on one button to volunteer your home and click on another to get placed into one. They claim to have over 60,000 beds available as of the time of this writing, and the number seems to grow by another 1,000 every time I click for an update. Related opportunities either to offer your home or to find a place to stay can be found at Katrinahome.com and Craigslist.org, while Dignan’s 75-year Plan apparently plans to have a similar effort operational this weekend. Hurricaid.com may prove to be a useful clearing house for resources for hurricane victims.
I salute all of you who have taken such steps of incredible generosity.