Sometimes when the Governor declares a state of emergency, it can cause way more panic than necessary, and as we recently witnessed--it can create a state of emergency!
I’m talking about the gas shortage of recent days. Pumps tied off, signs that read, “We’re out!” and commuters driving out of their way for gas just to get to work.
Well, what if I told you we created that shortage, with some help from our Governor?
Yes, there was a pipeline break in Alabama, which caused a leak into an area river. Federal regulators shut down the pipeline, which delivers gas to a large portion of Georgia, while they fixed it.
The public knew nothing about it for several days, as Governor Deal and Alabama's Governor Bentley worked quietly behind the scenes.
56 Georgia counties were still under the state of emergency that Deal issued because of Hurricane Hermine, so he didn’t have to issue another one. That helped get a few things done ahead of the public response, but when the news of the Governor’s emergency declaration over the pipeline finally hit, drivers panicked.
Everyone rushed the nearest pump, filled extra canisters, and followed orders of their elected officials to ‘top off’ when they could. That’s not the kind of demand gas stations expect, and by the end of the first day, pumps around metro Atlanta were dry. That doesn’t make sense since supplies had been sufficient for several days after the pipeline broke--until the government sounded the alarm.
So a potential problem became a real one overnight, leaving many of us wondering about the wisdom of declaring an emergency at all.
Governor Deal later issued an order to stop gas price gouging. But that only encouraged everyone to keep filling up their tanks whenever they could, and stations continued to run out.
It’s worth asking: Without the state of emergency, would we have seen this chaos?
The last time we had a real state of emergency was back during the ice storm in 2014. Is it possible the harsh criticism of Deal’s poor response on that occasion has made him trigger happy?
Don’t get me wrong. When the Governor declares counties, or the entire state, to be in a state of emergency, it can be a good thing, getting help to people who need it quickly.
But that power comes with great responsibility, so the Governor needs to be careful not to make problems worse, as I think happened here. Discretion is the key.
If you agree, let Governor Deal know. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his phone number is 404-656-1776. Tell the Governor that we understand there are times when the state needs to step in, but more often than not, the proactive choice is just making the situation worse. Let his office know that the market will regulate itself, and we don’t need the state manipulating every little thing. And remind him that a day or two without gasoline or bread won’t kill any of us.