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Environment

Americans Cross the Mexican Border for Cheap Gas, Misunderstandings Result

Better PlanetBy Benjamin NugentJuly 3, 2008 10:08 PM

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It used to be that when Americans drove into Northern Mexico for a couple hours, it was to undergo ill-advised surgeries. Now, sometimes, it's to fight with each other over Mexico's cheaper, state-subsidized gas pumps. Mexican border towns are already problematic places to hang out. Drug-gang violence has been escalating to the point where the number of tourists and party people slipping over the border for fun is way down. But American gas-seekers have been making it worse, according to a story in Reuters. They've been competing with each other and the locals for places in line at gas stations, getting into brawls in two-hour lines, to the point where local Mexican authorities have started talking about rationing gas. It's well worth their while from a financial standpoint -- with fuel prices up to $4.50 per gallon in Southern California and Southern Arizona, they can save up to $100 per month. Depressing? Sure! But also, perhaps, necessary. This is probably what needs to happen on a global scale before most consumers will choose to buy cars with better fuel efficiency, avoid driving so much, and otherwise reduce their fossil fuel consumption. Humiliation is a powerful instrument of change; maybe some of those border-crossers from LA will start to fantasize about an expanded subway system. In the long term, these high fuel prices are mostly a good thing.

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