Gas Prices: “No, I can’t move closer to work”.

In light of skyrocketing gas prices and lacking the option of light rail or a subway, some are stuck with a glum prospect of taking at least three buses and double their commute time if they want to get to work without spending money on gasoline.

So are gas prices falling yet?  A new poll now shows that a troubling 4 in 10 Americans are experiencing or will be experiencing serious financial hardship because of the high gas prices, impacting their purchasing power and thus the economy in a very serious way.

Project Economic Refugee has been following this topic as it relates to Wall Street speculators and as it has been linked to the death of Osama bin Laden (which, disturbingly enough, converges with oil prices on another level: did you know that Wall Street speculators ironically fulfilled Osama’s wish of $144+/barrel?). 

Project Economic Refugee also started a petition over at, which you can access here (you can help to promote it by signing and passing it along and then promote it on your blog, facebook, and/or twitter) asking the U.S. Attorney General to launch a Grand Jury investigation on high gas prices.
It’s been interesting to see the reactions since the petition was launched.  Conservatives have tended to react with their typical worship of Wall Street and a mantra of “don’t interfere with the market- let it ride wild and free”, missing the entire point of reigning back corporate greed.  Meanwhile, some liberals have reacted with an elitist “oh there you go complaining about crack prices so you can feed your addiction” missing also the point of a solution that can resonate with the electorate in a more immediate sense (not just a long term one) since progressives in my opinion have historically lacked one (the conservatives have their own: get more oil by drilling more/release oil reserves-nevermind of course the consequences on the environment).
Meanwhile all we see coming from the White House is “get rid of the tax breaks for oil companies.”  Ignoring the terrible framing on that issue and while that may be an excellent idea, virtually nowhere in the enviro circles I run into do I hear a serious conversation about how high gas prices affect low income communities of color the most or how lack of public transportation options are at play here, resulting in lack of employment opportunities (since many can’t afford the higher rent rates that tend to occur in areas where there’s more businesses that can offer good jobs), thereby resulting in a cycle that goes like this: poor people can’t afford to live near good paying jobs resulting in more cars on the freeway because there are very little or nonexistent public transportation options.  This topic was highlighted recently by a USC blog offering South Los Angeles as an example of this: 

Everyone here drives and in order to survive in the City of Angels, you need wheels to be your wings.
However, some low-income and minority segments of Los Angeles do not own cars. For decades, this has denied them access to goods and employment in other parts of the city.

So yes, it would be great if everyone could just afford to either move closer to work or buy a Hybrid.  However, the reality is that for some people, these are not viable options.  It’s time for us to move the discussion where it ought to be: finding solutions that can actually have more immediate impact both for the health of our environment and to strive for socio-economic justice, rather than get stuck in the same stale old arguments that lead nowhere but political gridlock. 

Again, here’s the link to my petition; I hope you sign: