The brief hiccup in gasoline supply brought about by the cyberattack on a major East Coast pipeline system didn’t really seem to hit the Valley much last week.
As you probably know, Colonial Pipeline, which transports about 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, was forced to temporarily halt all pipeline operations, it said, due to a ransomware attack. Ransomware is becoming an increasingly concerning issue nationwide.
As for the gas supply, The Daily Item’s highly unscientific survey of area stations on Wednesday didn’t show any that had run out of gas or experienced long lines.
Nice to catch a break once in a while, isn’t it?
Of course, as most of you had probably noticed, gas prices here had already gone up prior to that temporary pipeline shutdown. I’d gone from paying $2.93 to $3.06 a gallon in a matter of about a week at the station I use in Lewisburg. Why? Who knows?
“There’s no way to predict gas prices, there’s no way even when there’s not a shutdown, other than we know that certain times of years we will see increases,” Lynda Lambert, media spokesperson and safety advisor for AAA East Central, told Daily Item reporter Justin Strawser last week.
Truer words have seldom been spoken. I have never had an “expert” satisfactorily explain gas price variances.
We may have dodged the gasoline shortage bullet for now, but it likely won’t be completely. Lambert said there may be additional price hikes of 3 to 7 cents per gallon headed our way.
In addition, it looks like there may be a lot of other potential shortages to test our patience as we try to emerge from the pandemic.
According to the website Moneytalknews.com, among the items for which we could be facing shortages are:
- Microchips. Shortages are apparently limiting the number of new cars from rolling off the assembly line and increasing prices for used cars.
- Chlorine for swimming pools. It seems it is mostly due to a fire last August at the Bio-Lab factory in Westlake, Louisiana.
- Chicken wings. The website reported that the freakish winter weather in Texas and other nearby chicken-producing states reduced the supply of chickens at a time when demand for wings, both commercially and by individuals, is at an all-time high.
- Lumber. It seems the pandemic shut down lumber production early on and it has caused major issues with the wood supply chain ever since.
The biggest shortage, however, may be finding people to hire. Some think that’s because of the extended federal unemployment $300 payments providing a disincentive to work. That may be true in some cases.
But there are other significant reasons. The Wall Street Journal reported that many people don’t want to risk returning to the workplace and contracting the virus. Another issue is the caregiver role. According to the New York Times, a Census Household Pulse survey found that a significant reason many adults can’t return to the workforce is because they still need to stay at home with their kids while they take online classes.
According to that late March survey, the Times reported, 6.3 million people were not working because they had to take care of their children at home. Another 2.1 million were at home caring for an older person.
The bottom line? We’re going to have to dig down deep for more patience as we seek a return to normal.
At least if we’re vaccinated we can cut back on wearing masks while we do it.
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