The United States is in danger of even more devastating gasoline shortages like the one that crippled the South in September thanks to an aging pipeline infrastructure that is decades old.
More than 60 percent of America’s pipelines that carry gasoline, diesel and other hazardous liquids were built prior to 1970, meaning they are nearly 50 years old, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Stations ran out of fuel, gas prices skyrocketed and governors declared states of emergency after a break in the Colonial Pipeline in September. The same pipeline exploded this week, meaning another gas shortage could be on the way.
Cities all over the country are in danger of repeating that scenario due to aging pipelines, The Journal reported. An investigation by the newspaper found that the majority of the pipelines that carry the nation’s fuel are aging and wearing out.
Older pipelines are more vulnerable to corrosion and other maintenance problems that cause disruptions in fuel delivery. The Colonial Pipeline is 52 years old and began operation in 1965, when Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.
“Clearly, operators don’t have a complete handle on how to operate these older pipelines,” Carl Weimer of the Pipeline Safety Trust told The Journal.
There are about 200,000 miles of pipelines in the U.S., according to WABE radio in Atlanta. Fifteen percent of those pipelines were build prior to 1950.
The Colonial Pipeline carries 100 million gallons of fuel each day to the East Coast and South and serves 50 million residents.
Colonial Pipeline’s Dave Doudna said the region could use another pipeline, but it would be costly – more than a billion dollars — and face opposition.
“The permitting process takes a long time, the cost to build is expensive. And what you end up finding is that customers aren’t willing, or have not been willing to commit, [to pay for it] for a period of 10 to 15 years,” he told The Journal. “I would say a lot of it is the regulatory environment we’re living in today.”
Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota led to violent clashes between sheriff’s deputies and Native American protestors last week, NPR reported. More than 100 people have been arrested.
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