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franklin county times

Gas prices: No need for panic

By Staff
Sept. 13, 2001
Greedy opportunists seem to follow tragedies like snakes to woodpiles. Carpetbaggers who ravaged the South after the Civil War come to mind, and so do profiteers in the Mississippi gasoline market.
Just hours after hijacked civilian airliners crashed into two of America's leading symbols of commerce and defense, word spread that gas stations in the Magnolia State  and elsewhere were running short of supply. At various points in the day, prices per gallon were said to be rising to as high as $5. Stations were said to be closing.
In a near-panic, motorists crowded in to fill their tanks with what they evidently believed would be the last drop of gas that would ever be sold.
A spot survey revealed that some stations on the Mississippi Coast had raised prices by about 20 cents a gallon. In Meridian, various stations did raise prices by as much as a nickel a gallon. In Jackson, Rose Slay, owner of Slay's Chevron, said she had never seen lines at her service station as long as she did Tuesday.
This is just unreal. All I know is what customers have been telling us. They've been saying that prices are about to rise and that refineries are about to close,'' said Slay, who has owned the gas station since 1967.
How do such rumors get started? Refineries closing? Suppliers running out of gas for the stations they service?
The pandemonium was not caused by the terrorist attacks, but largely by we consumers ourselves, listening to rumors and heading for the pumps.
In a hopeful sign of calming the situation, both Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and Attorney General Mike Moore have spread word of their own: Mississippi will not tolerate price gouging.
They were attempting to calm a fear that the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington could drive up gas prices and disrupt supplies. On Tuesday, Musgrove went so far as to declare a state of emergency, thus activating a state law that allows prosecutors to prosecute price gougers.
We do not need people to take advantage of this horrific incident to raise gas prices,'' he said.
Moore said he asked Musgrove for the declaration after his office fielded more than a thousand calls from angry motorists reporting gas prices as high as $3.60 a gallon in some areas of the state.
This really concerns me because this is a day that everybody should be pulling together,'' he said. Our nation has been attacked and for someone to take advantage of that monetarily is just not going to stand. There is no justification for this, and I know the public is very mad about this.''
The public, in fact, is outraged that greed would raise its head, especially at such a time.
Musgrove and Moore were right to act, and anyone selling gasoline at gouged prices should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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