By Jeffrey Albertson, Jr.
Gwinnett County, GA—For the second time in 40 days, Gov. Nathan Deal has signed an executive order to address potential fuel shortages stemming from yesterday’s Coastal Pipeline fire. The order titled, Ensuring the Uninterrupted Supply of Transportation Fuel, is nearly identical to a prior executive order signed on September 22. Both orders exercised the governor’s authority to suspend the federal regulation limiting the hours of operation for commercial motor vehicle drivers. According to today’s executive order, this cap in hours is suspended for 30 days. Although the cap is suspended, a driver who reports fatigue “shall be given at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty” before returning to driving.
The fire at the Colonial Pipeline in Shelby County, Alabama killed one worker, injured five others, and shutdown the major gasoline pipeline that fulfills roughly one-third of the east coast’s fuel demand. The blaze was sparked around 2 p.m. local time when a crew of contract workers using a trackhoe were performing maintenance on the system. The machinery breached the pipe and ignited gasoline inside the line, causing a fire that continued to burn late Monday night. Yesterday’s explosion marks the sixth of a series of incidents for Colonial Pipeline in the state of Alabama.
AAA Spokesman Garrett Townsend said, “The explosion will at least temporarily put a halt to the pump-price dip we’ve experience over the past 30 days.” The expected price increase and fuel shortages will follow just as the cost per gallon began to return to normal levels. The September spill leaked 252,000 gallons of gasoline into a nearby man-made water retention pond and caused fuel shortages in the metro Atlanta area for nearly 2 weeks.