Asheville, NC is Out of Gas

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

gas.jpg The city of Asheville, North Carolina and surrounding towns are so short on gas that residents must wait over an hour to fill their tanks, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Many gas stations have closed altogether. Those which remain open have police stationed at the pumps to prevent fights from breaking out—one driver threatened another with a baseball bat. Asheville officials have canceled all nighttime events, and the county is asking that nonessential employees work from home or switch to a four-day week.

The gas crunch began after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike swept through the Gulf Coast, shutting down the oil refineries that supply western North Carolina. Because of its relatively remote location high in the Blue Ridge mountains, county officials estimate that shortages in the Asheville area will continue at least through the end of the month.

Storm recovery efforts, for obvious reasons, usually focus on the places that suffer the worst damage. But as this year’s floods and hurricanes have shown us, infrastructure damage in one part of the country can have serious effects on the others. While Asheville’s situation is extraordinary, it’s likely to become more common as the frequency of severe storms increases.

So whose responsibility is it to deal with this problem? Several people told the Citizen-Times that they think the federal government should step in get the city moving again, perhaps by tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In the long term, a coherent federal disaster protocol might help us to set our priorities (though I’m not holding my breath). Any Asheville readers out there? Let us know how things are going in the comments.

DSCF1416.jpgUPDATE: My sister Abby lives in Black Mountain and sent these pictures from this afternoon. She writes, “The line started on US-70 and proceeded around three blocks until we finally landed at the gas station. More than half of the cars in the lines weren’t even on, and there was a cop at the end and beginning of every block.” DSCF1418.jpgDSCF1419.jpg

Top photo used under a Creative Commons license from Sheryl Breuker.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend