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?

The difference between a politician and a public servant may be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to getting legislation passed that actually helps people, the contrast is stark.

Texas Representative James Talarico is on a mission to get his constituents the life-saving medicine they need. The 31-year-old lawmaker has just introduced legislation that would cap the price of insulin—a medicine people with type 1 diabetes need to live, which has become unaffordable for many—at $50 a month.

The mission is personal for Talarico, as he nearly died three years ago when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He shared his story on Twitter:

"In May 2018, I was a healthy 28-year-old running for the Texas House. I decided to walk the entire length of my district and hold town halls along the way. I hike Big Bend every year, so I wasn't concerned about a 25 mile walk...

But halfway through the walk, I began feeling nauseous and fatigued. Before the town hall in Hutto, I vomited in the bathroom."

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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