Alabama Declares State of Emergency Over Concerns for Gas Supply

Following the explosion of a pipeline in Shelby County, Alabama, on Monday, October 31, 2016, the state’s Governor Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency to run from November 1 through December 1, 2016, over concerns for the gas supply to much of the U.S. East Coast.

As Bentley explained in a released statement, the declaration will facilitate the application process for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to lift the usual federally-regulated limitation of hours a driver can transport gasoline.

The regulations currently in place limit a driver to drive no more than 60 hours for seven consecutive days or 70 hours for eight consecutive days (each individual motor carrier determines which of these two options their drivers will use.) A waiver of these limitations determined to be for the safety of both the truck driver and other drivers and vehicles on the road.

The pipeline in Shelby County, owned and operated by Colonial Pipeline, was ruptured when a crew performing maintenance struck the pipe with a trackhoe, with a resultant spark that ignited the then-escaping fuel. Colonial Pipeline shut down the pipeline that provides a major portion of gas and fuel distillates to the East Coast of the United States.

The reduced gas supply to a number of states had already caused an increase in the price of gasoline future’s to $1.6351 on Monday, the day of the explosion. Authorities and motorists in the states affected by the decreased gas supply are anticipating a rise in gas prices, something that occurred in September 2016 when the same line was shut down due to a spill.

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