The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Maryland Mystery:
There Is No Gas Shortage

Feb 19, 2001

Outraged customers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. saw their gas and electric bills double this December and January. The area customers using natural gas whose bills went up are covered by Washington Gas Light, Baltimore Gas and Electric and Columbia Gas.

The local media, adding insult to injury, repeats over and over that the problem is a shortage of natural gas and a cold winter. Well gosh, it was cold in the winter, how amazing. This was a winter like most others, when the temperatures drop. It was colder only in comparison to last winter, which in this area was one of the mildest in history.

This is not an explanation for the shortage of natural gas. In fact, the utilities decided to cut back on drilling last year. In this way, they could guarantee there would not be enough gas when demand went back up this winter. Then the utilities could jack up the prices, blaming it on a shortage–which they had created.

If there were really a shortage, then why didn’t it affect customers in Virginia the same way? These are the neighbors in the counties next to the ones with "shortages." They aren’t paying $400 or $600 this month–or at least not yet.

In fact, the "shortage" actually has to do with which states’ legislators have already freed their utilities to demand any price they want in the name of "deregulation," and which state legislatures are still making the deals.

This is how the "free" market works, deregulating the dollars right out of our pockets.