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Editorial: Gas spike caused by panic

News & Record of Greensboro
The Sheetz gas station at 5421 Hornaday Road raised its price for regular on Sept. 15 ó to $3.79 a gallon from $3.65, where it had stood all weekend.
After a very busy day on Sept. 12, traffic settled down to normal, an attendant said. The station was resupplied and keeping up with demand.
So what’s with prices spiking way beyond $4, or even $5 at some locations in the Triad and across North Carolina? That’s what motorists, Gov. Mike Easley and N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper want to know.
On Sept. 12, the governor declared a state of “abnormal market disruption” because of the potential impact of Hurricane Ike on refineries in Texas. Fortunately, disruptions turned out to be slight. Anticipation alone caused trouble, and price-gouging complaints flooded into Cooper’s office. He’s investigating, but he might find the real enemy is us.
While Easley and Cooper urged motorists to avoid panic buying, many heard other messages. The idea that people needed to get out and fill up took hold on Sept. 12, prompting a run on gas stations that made the problems of supply and demand much worse. Strangely enough, North Carolina was one of the states most affected by this phenomenon of fright. The average price of regular gas was 24 cents per gallon higher here than the national average, AAA said on Sept. 15.
It’s time to settle down and practice sensible conservation to counteract Ike’s minor effect on supplies. Giving in to gas-gouging is foolish, especially when it’s largely self-inflicted.

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