Target: Christopher A. Hart, Chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board
Goal: Develop a plan for the ultimate closure of a pipeline that recently exploded in Alabama.
After a brief closure due to an explosion last week in Alabama, a gasoline pipeline is now back in service, transporting fossil fuels from the Gulf of Mexico to New York City. The explosion was fatal to one pipeline worker, 48-year-old Anthony Lee Willingham, and four other workers were injured and remain hospitalized. A fire caused by the explosion burned for more than three days. As a further twist of irony, the explosion took place while a crew was working on repairs related to a recent gas spill – the leak spilled an estimated 252,000 to 336,000 gallons of gasoline into an inactive coal mine.
We have known for some time that burning fossil fuels poses a threat to our climate, but the recent catastrophes around this pipeline clearly demonstrate some of the other dangers of harvesting, processing, and transporting fossil fuels. The pipeline was built in 1963, and carries gasoline from refineries in Houston to distribution centers all the way up the East Coast to New York Harbor, playing a significant role in our nation’s fuel system. However, we have come a long way since 1963 – from witnessing horrific oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Alaska, to recently ratifying the first ever international agreement on lowering carbon emissions, we have begun to see the need for a fossil-free future.
A major pipeline such as this one, however much we may currently depend on it, is dangerous. Not only does the system pose a threat to our planet by continuing to move fossil fuels, but any small faults in a now 50-year-old pipeline risk massive amounts of gas spillage and even endanger human lives. The National Transportation Safety Board has been conducting an investigation on the explosion, collecting data, documents, and interviews to determine how crises like these may be avoided in the future. Sign the petition to convince the board that the only course of action must be shutting down the pipeline. However difficult it may be, we must develop a plan to wean our nation off of dangerous fossil fuels.
Dear Mr. Hart,
I am writing with regard to the recent gasoline spill and subsequent explosion on the site of a major pipeline in Alabama. I was very sorry to hear that one of the crewmembers was killed in the explosion, and several more remain hospitalized. In the wake of this tragic accident, I urge you to see that the only truly safe measure will be to develop a plan for permanent closure of the pipeline.
As you may know, the Paris Agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions recently went into effect. Our country has committed to a carbon-neutral future, and now is the time for us to start taking action on this commitment. I understand that closing down a major national pipeline will be complex and difficult – even the brief closure of the pipeline following the explosion led to a seven cent increase in gas prices in Georgia – but the recent accident should serve as a wake-up call.
The harvesting, processing, transporting, and burning of fossil fuels is perilous in many ways, and the best way to keep our citizens and our environment safe is to leave fossil fuels in the ground. I hope you will see the urgency of this matter, and work toward a plan for transitioning the region to renewable energy sources, ultimately closing the pipeline down for good.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: NPCA Online