I don't know about you, but I can't wait for winter to end. It seems that every week in Chicago of late we see a few nights that drop under zero degrees and no less than a couple of snow storms. It turns out that my observation of a bad winter is not just anecdotal. The Chicago area -- not to mention much of the Midwest and New England -- has experienced quite a bit of that white stuff this year. And it turns out that many municipalities are running short of salt and are being forced to purchase their remaining requirements on a spot basis. According to this New York Times article on the subject one community in Wisconsin has almost "used up almost all of its salt" and was being forced to buy more "from a supplier in Minnesota at a price 70 percent higher than the $39.29 per ton the county typically paid." Some regions of the country have run out of salt, in fact, and have been forced to try materials substitution. But in my view, sprinkling sand on the roads, as the article points out that some areas are doing as a last resort, just does not cut it. Why? Salt matters. Plain and simple. And our cities and states need to get better about sourcing the stuff and locking in capacity in the years to come.
- Jason Busch