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A Gulf Full Of Oil Can't Beat A Tank Full Of Gas

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A Gulf Full Of Oil Can't Beat A Tank Full Of Gas

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A Gulf Full Of Oil Can't Beat A Tank Full Of Gas

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BP says a cap placed on its ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is capturing 10,000 barrels of oil a day. While the cap has succeeded in slowing the flow of oil, its still washing up on the shores as far as Floridas panhandle. And Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says no one should be pleased as long as there is oil in the water.

Consumers certainly arent pleased. But as Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio reports, motorists have mixed feelings about how to react.

Unidentified Woman: Now, we have the problem of cleanup. And one of the biggest problems that's now been highlighted is the issue of dispersants.

BRIAN MANN: It's mid-morning and I'm out driving in my truck and on the radio, of course, is 24-7 coverage of the Gulf oil spill. Everybody's talking about it. And so the question I wanted to ask people at gas stations here in upstate New York was, do you feel any connection or responsibility as you gas up your car for this horrible thing that you're watching on the news?

My first stop is a convenience store in Saranac Lake, New York. And the first thing I find is that people are following this disaster really closely. Kayla Martin is gassing up her car.

Ms. KAYLA MARTIN: Watching the news, yes. It's very awful thing that's going on, you know, pollution, animals, you know, in the water getting harmed.

MANN: People are also really, really angry. Dwayne Carpenter(ph), a guy with a yellow biker beard and tattoos is filling up his truck.

Mr. DWAYNE CARPENTER: I don't see anything happening fast enough. We've seen too much kill the wildlife and I want my kids to grow up and have the same things I had.

MANN: Some people are also just sick of the whole mess. Ed Sharmer(ph) is gassing up his truck and filling a jerry jug. He kind of shrugs and admits he's starting to tune the spill out.

Mr. ED SHARMER: To the point where I don't want to watch it anymore. It's discouraging, there's nothing that I feel that I can do about it.

MANN: But BP wasn't just tinkering around out there in the Gulf. The company was trying to create a product that we all buy every day. Gas is something we all want and want cheap. Most of the people I talked to were driving what you'd have to call gas guzzlers. So, I asked whether they feel any personal culpability.


MANN: That's Dwayne Carpenter again. When I asked the question, he looked sort of angry.

Mr. CARPENTER: You know, we have to survive up here. The truck is my livelihood. Without it, I wouldn't have business and I need that truck. So, if gas prices go up, we got to pay it.

MANN: I hear this a lot: people are disgusted by the oil spill, but what really has them worried is the idea that gas prices will spike. Kayla Martin says driving a lot is unavoidable, especially in this rural area.

Ms. MARTIN: It's an everyday thing that you need to do in life, too. And so, you know, we need gas, so it kind of puts us in a situation.

MANN: The people I talked to get the fact that more of our oil is coming from riskier places - from countries that are politically unstable and from parts of the world that are environmentally sensitive.

A Quinnipiac poll released June 1st found that public support for offshore drilling has dipped. But Ed Sharmer from Saranac Lake says most people just don't see many options.

Mr. SHARMER: We're using too much fuel but we still use it the way our life is.

MANN: Do you think this is the kind of thing that will make you cut back a little?

Mr. SHARMER: No, I don't think this will. If you haven't moved already on thoughts along those lines, then this is not going to move us.

MANN: So, I should say that while I was at the convenience store I filled up my gas tank, too. What I heard there was that people are angry but they also don't see a real connection between the spill in the Gulf and the decisions they're making about the cars and trucks they drive and the number of times they fill up their tanks in the week.

For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann.

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