"I sincerely hope Parliament will do something about this soon, because I don't know how much longer we can take it! We're almost out of fuel but lines are still backed up," said Joe Studs, owner of an Octan franchise near Bricksburg.
The largest factor in the energy crisis is the sharp reduction in oil imported into the Lego Republic. International tensions have created an atmosphere of fear and mistrust that has severely decreased trade. Oil imports from the Basicstan oilfields of the Empire of Legoland, which has outraged the minifig world by giving Fred Deeds safe haven, have practically stopped as a result of the tension between Legoland and the Republic. Trade with other producers such as Legostan and Studsland has been disrupted as the minifig world hinges on the edge of war. Reports have indicated that a Legopolis aircraft was shot down by Legoland this week, and in another incident, rogue PBR planes entered Legoland airspace with the self-appointed mission of assassinating Fred Deeds. The fate of these planes is still unknown.
Some of the price increase is due to environmental regulations passed by Parliament this spring. The law's goal was to reduce the Lego Republic's carbon emissions by 70% in the next five years and included signficant subsidies to clean-energy companies. Solar panel manufacturers, hybrid automobile producers, and other businesses received a combination of tax breaks and financial incentives to support the law's 2019 goal. Production of clean energy is at an all-time high, but will not be enough to fully support the country until at least 2015 or 2016.
The most controversial aspect of the law, increased taxes on petroleum products like gasoline, barely made into the final version of the bill. Taxes on gasoline were raised by 50%, while other oil-based products saw a tax increase of 20%. This even applies to foreign imports, which has sharply reduced the amount of gasoline entering the country.
"I said it in March, and I'll say it again. Increased petroleum taxes are a terrible idea. This harms businesses and consumers in the Lego Republic and has directly led to the crisis we are in right now," declared Francis David, standard-bearer of the Conservative Party and leader of the movement to defeat the tax amendment. "I am drafting a repeal of this poorly-planned law as we speak."
The Liberal Democratic Party, led by President Marie Bricks, has its own ideas for bringing an end to the energy crisis.
"These taxes, while slightly contributing towards higher prices, are a key step towards our goal of lowering emissions. While we are making significant progress to converting to clean energy, we are not quite there yet. My party is currently working on our own effective, bipartisan solution to the energy crisis, which will involve expanded offshore drilling," said parliamentary leader François Tremblay.
Energy and environmental expert Emily Éolienne agreed with Tremblay that increased drilling domestically is likely to solve the problems facing the country.
"While normally I would oppose increased oil extraction, in this case, I believe that expansion of drilling facilities in the Legolantic Ocean will provide the Republic with a steady supply of domestic oil, reducing reliance on imports," she said.
However, as citizens wait for relief, prices just keep climbing higher. Protests have formed outside the Parliament building and a riot erupted outside Bricksburg earlier this week. Minifigs were seen throwing bricks and plates at each other and destroying property after learning that someone purchased more than their allotted share of gasoline at an Octan station.
"Right now, we have a crisis on our hands, and my administration is working feverishly to solve it," said President Marie Bricks. "My party is currently drafting a bill, which will be put to a vote in Parliament in the coming days. Meanwhile, I urge you all to stay calm as we work together to bring peace and stability back to the Republic."