Part of my job as a journalist is to sift through the day’s news and find Western U.S. stories about energy, the environment, extraction industries, climate, water, wildlife, and communities. I scan carefully curated news and twitter feeds, get dozens of Google news alerts, and skim the headlines of a dozen or more websites.
As you may have surmised, these days it’s been an almost unbroken stream of news related to the crisis in Ukraine. And, maybe you’ve guessed this already, too, but the most common headline is not about the horror that Putin is inflicting on the Ukrainian people, not about the perilous situation at Ukraine nuclear power plants—including Chernobyl, and not about the possibility that this will escalate into a wider conflict. Nope. The news that’s making the daily headlines seems to be the steep price folks are paying to fill up their gas tanks.
For someone like me, who drives a 45 mile-per-gallon car (which just hit 299,000 miles, thank you, and, yes, I am virtue signaling in your general direction, newish car folks!) it’s tempting to look down one’s nose righteously at the expensive-gas-guzzler-drivers out there. Or maybe we see this as good news, the kind of thing that will get people out of their fossil-fueled cars and onto bikes or into electric vehicles. Surely it will in urban areas, but to expect the same in the rural West is both unfair, and unrealistic.