Drivers Boycott Gasoline Nationwide

By Cedric He, Staff Writer

// In the days following July 4, a student drives their car into a local gas station. The student expects this trip to cost at least $6.50 per gallon, but they are pleasantly surprised to see that their participation in the recent gas boycott has helped lower the price to $6.25.

   From July 3 to July 5, drivers across the country came together to boycott purchasing gasoline in hopes of lowering the cost. This is a result of increased fuel prices that consistently hurt drivers everywhere, from day-to-day commuters to long-haul truckers.

   The massive increase in the price of gasoline over the last few months impacted many Acalanes students.

   “The rise of gasoline prices have [made] me a lot more conscious of cost, and [of] trying to go wherever is cheapest. [The car I drive] does not get very good gas mileage, but I can’t get another car, [so] it really just manifests in me trying to drive less,” senior Mary Laska said.

    Prices have also impacted teachers who drive frequently. Current gasoline prices remind them of the fuel shortage in the 1970s that also led to higher prices at the pump. 

   “Lately, I have thought more about my routes, driving, and carpooling than I have in a long [time]. Back in the 1970s, during the shortage, I remember my dad complaining how it was now up to 70 cents a gallon,” librarian Barbara Burkhalter said.

As July 4 approached, many community members worried about the soaring prices and what it would mean for their travel plans.

   “Because of how expensive gasoline has gotten these past few weeks, [our family] seriously considered traveling by train or plane instead of by car this weekend. The cost is very harmful for big families like mine, since the large car we use doesn’t have very good fuel economy,” Acalanes parent Michelle Lun said. 

   A week before July 4, a popular TikTok influencer with the username aidans_98_prelude posted a video encouraging drivers to boycott gasoline between July 3 and July 5 in an effort to bring down the cost of gas nationwide. The influencer cited an incident in 2008, when a similar situation occurred. The video subsequently went viral, receiving over 15 million views on TikTok. 

   However, in the Lamorinda community, only a few drivers participated. 

   “I participated because it was convenient for me, but other than that, I was also curious as to whether the price of gas would actually go down as a result of our efforts,” Lun said. 

  Those who drive hybrid or electric vehicles were hesitant. The gasoline prices did not affect them as severely and they did not think that boycotting purchasing gasoline would help the situation.

   “Granted, I was not aware of the gasoline boycott, [but] even if I was, I don’t think [boycotting] against buying gasoline is a cause I want to stand up for,” junior Nicole Parlett said. “Even though I drive almost every day, I don’t often worry about gasoline [prices], and I don’t have to fill up very often since the car [I drive] has a high mile-per-gallon ratio.”

   Adults who were unaware of the ongoing gasoline boycott felt that, for a boycott to work, a mere three days would not be enough. They figured that the demand for fuel after July 5 would be the same, if not greater. 

   “I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. Gas prices aren’t high just because politicians feel like being ‘mean’, and those who have some influence on pricing…are already aware that the prices are very difficult for most consumers to pay,” Burkhalter said. “A [short term boycott] isn’t going to change anything. There are many complicating factors, such as the war in Ukraine, issues with Saudi Arabia, and inflation.”

However, since aidans_98_prelude posted the video encouraging the gasoline boycott, gasoline prices in California have steadily declined, from an average of $6.22 on July 5 to about $6.13 on July 8. Student drivers are happy with what this means for low-income families in the state.

   “I understand why California gas prices are so high, but I think it really harms people who are already living paycheck to paycheck. Most people have to commute and the cost increase is definitely going to take a toll,” Laska said.

   Parents are also empathetic to underprivileged people living in the community.

   “Because California is an expensive place to live, I expect gas prices to also be higher, [but] I am worried it will put financial stress on many families who are already struggling because of the pandemic,” Acalanes parent Melissa Chen said.

Although the community expects gasoline prices to continue declining, more and more consumers hope to turn to hybrid and electric vehicles as the solution to their fuel-related issues. 

   “I hope to switch to a hybrid or electric car [in the future],” Laska said. “I think driving electric cars can reduce smog and air pollution, and create a healthier city environment, but we [also] need to increase clean energy production as well.” 

   Although students’ thoughts on the recent July 4 gasoline boycott have been mixed, the community remains optimistic for the future of gas prices. 

   “I am genuinely surprised that the recent July 4 boycott succeeded. On top of that, it is amazing to see what can happen when the community comes together like that,” Lun said.

Photos by Justin Rosenblatt, Staff Writer.

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