An oil pipeline leak in Alabama is about to affect the entire East Coast.

If you drive a car, you may want to fill up your tank sooner rather than later.

A major pipeline that serves 13 states on the East Coast has been closed after a massive spill was discovered on Sept. 9, 2016.

Repair efforts were delayed by bad weather, and experts are now saying that the pipeline has been closed long enough that it will start punching consumers right in the wallet.


Photo by Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images.

“We’re starting to see the dominoes fall where this will become an issue that will affect motorists’ wallets for sure,” said Patrick DeHaan a petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. “It could become not only a wallet issue but a fuel availability issue.”

The Colonial Pipeline delivers about 40% of the gas used on the East Coast of the United States.

Many states have already taken steps to prevent a chaotic gas shortage freakout.

Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama have waived rules that limit how many hours truck drivers can travel so they can speed up fuel deliveries.

On Sept. 14, hoping not to disrupt fuel transport, the EPA ended a Clean Air Act summer requirement for cleaner gas two days early for 13 counties in Georgia and five counties in Tennessee.

Photo by Phillippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images.

And Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency in Shelby County after the gas spill.

So yeah. Things aren't looking great. But don't get too worried.

For the most part, gas consumers on the East Coast will see a price spike and not much else. Repair efforts are underway at the pipeline and (hopefully) everything will be back up and running normally before long.

The truly fascinating thing about this story is that it highlights just how powerful fossil fuels are in our economy.

Even if you set aside their harmful environmental effects (which you shouldn't), watching our economy bend and shape itself with every change in gas availability is alarming.

This outage has already driven gas futures up 5%, which is only the third time this summer that they've gone up that much.

And honestly, I have no idea what gas futures are, but the effect of gasoline on the economy is pretty stunning.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

As the prices rise and fall, there's a huge impact on the wallets of everyday people — and when that price can be affected so greatly by something like an accidental spill, it puts our economy and livelihoods in a weirdly fragile place. It gets weirder when you remember that the majority of the gas we use comes from overseas.

Loosening our dependence on fossil fuels could help ease crises like this in the future. Imagine if more drivers on the East Coast had electric cars. *Thinking face emoji*

For now, East Coasters will just have to wait it out.

The pipe will be fixed, the spill will get cleaned up, and eventually everything will return to normal.

The real question is: How much longer will we let fossil fuels push us around?

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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via Cathy Pedrayes / Instagram

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We've all been raised to tell the truth, but when it comes to being safe there's no reason we should feel compelled to give out personal information to a random stranger. Pedrayes' videos do a great job at not only showing women when to lie and but how to feel comfortable doing so.

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