"Where will it stop?" asked Kenai Republican Sen. Tom Wagoner. "Everyone in the state has high fuel bills."
Actually, the cost of fuel in many road system areas (like Squarebanks) has dropped considerably since the economy has tanked. Even the price of firewood has plunged - now that fuel oil has come down, there is less demand for firewood. At the beginning of winter (before the economy tanked) some local people were asking for $375 for a split cord of spruce. $375!! This week, those same local entrepreneurs are asking $220. Coincidence?
Unlike, say, for Emmonak and every other community in Alaska where the fuel vendor has to buy an entire season's fuel before the sea freezes and no more barges deliver until ... you guessed ... the sea ice melts. They are locked in to higher prices until the next delivery, because they bought the fuel at the inflated price.
I asked a friend of mine in a coastal regional center what her fuel bill was per month right now. $800. Thank goodness she has a good paying job. But you can bet she is looking forward to spring and a new fuel delivery for her town.
You know why folks in urban centers like mine (even if I live slightly out of town) are surprised by the crisis in Emmonak and not particularly sympathetic? Because our own crisis has abated some - and human beings are odd creatures with attention spans slightly longer than that of a labrador retriever puppy - and now that we're better able to meet our bills and fill up the big fricking pickup trucks, now that it is not hurting us, everyone is suddenly all "What high fuel prices? Whatever do you mean?"
That, and despite all the hoohaa over our 50 years of statehood in my local fishwrapper, the urban-rural divide has never been greater. But that's a topic for another post.