An old joke used to go something like this: “The gas war is over – gas won!”. That is the way that it looked in East Tennessee over the past few days. Blame it on being near the end of the gasoline pipeline distribution network or maybe good old profiteering but gasoline prices in our area were the highest of anywhere in the U.S. over the weekend.
What does this have to do with Gatlinburg real estate? Well, tourism drives our economy and if fuel is scarce or priced ridiculously high (over $5.00/gallon in some spots for regular grade gasoline on Saturday!) it would eventually have a very serious impact on our local real estate economy. The near panic by locals and tourists alike was remarkable. Couples I know called each other to strategize regarding how many vehicles they could fill before prices went up even further and what if any storage of fuel was possible. I think that I had a little preview of what would happen if prices and/or availability were ever to really get out of hand and I didn’t like what I saw. Yes, people were for the most part still courteous but the panic buying of fuel and the long lines at stations that did have gasoline was a little unsettling. With a lot of nerves being shaken in the financial centers of our nation over the weekend as well it hasn’t been an easy time for anyone to remain calm.
However, like most storms this one will eventually play out and our lives will return to however close to normal they can become. After a few days of SHARPLY higher prices and several stations running out entirely of all grades of gasoline things are better today. Prices have started to retreat and most gas stations again have gasoline. We have however had a small peak into the future if we as a nation don’t become energy independent soon.
In the words of a political action committee: “Drill here, drill now, pay less!”. Natural gas fueled vehicles, plug in hybrids, and nuclear power all seem like good ideas as well to me…