National Gas Out - Fact or Fiction

5-18-04 - A one-day boycott of gasoline is being promoted across the Internet, but will it have any real impact on the oil industry? Experts say in the best-case scenario, the only affect it will have will be to inconvenience drivers.

The e-mail asks drivers across the US to not buy gas on May 19th. The e-mail states that this would leave oil companies with a huge surplus and cause them to lose more than $4 billion.

But in reality, the e-mail’s premise is flawed. First News did some research on its history, and this isn’t the 1st time such a gas boycott has been declared. reports that everyone's "not purchasing a drop of gasoline for one day" will not cause oil companies to "choke on their stockpiles." Oil companies run their inventories on a weekly basis, and since the "gas out" scheme doesn't call on people to buy less gasoline but simply to shift their date of purchase by one day, oil company stockpiles won't be affected at all.

Snopes also reports that there would not be any profit loss for oil companies because the gas would end up being purchased anyway. In fact, during past organized efforts, the only people impacted were drivers who waited in line for fuel the days before and after the boycott. In the end, gas stations themselves would see some impact, but they have the least control over prices in the fuel industry.

Traditionally, for a boycott to have a significant impact, it would have to last for days and even weeks. Experts say the only real benefit to consumers in this case is an outlet to release some gas price anger.

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