The Future of Pipelines in America

Pipelines are not going away soon. Statistically speaking, oil and natural gas pipelines are the safest method of transportation for these critical resources. However, just because they’re the safest does not mean they should be exempt from oversight. The lack of regulation over gathering lines is quickly becoming an issue that requires action before the increased size and stress on unregulated pipelines causes permanent damage to people’s livelihoods or the environment. The processes in which pipelines are created have become safer over time, but there is still more to be done. Using materials that will degrade slower, and replacing, not repurposing, pipelines will save companies from massive legal and damage control costs down the road. Sometimes, subsidiary sections of pipelines such as pressure stations add to the pollution; companies need to take approaches to not just limit the oil and natural gas released into the ecosystem, but also the other chemicals released by the tools used. The Gulf of Mexico is a powerhouse in producing domestic energy, but at the cost of one of the United States’ most beautiful and irreplaceable regions.

Energy companies should be investing heavily into the research and development of pipelines. The most important fact to keep in mind, despite all the downsides, is pipelines provide the safest method of transporting natural gas and oil around the country. Many of these issues and disasters mentioned in this report can be prevented by regular updates to the pipeline infrastructure. Debbie Hersman, the head of the National Transport Safety Board, told National Public Radio, “I will tell you, 100 percent of the [pipeline] accidents that we've investigated were completely preventable” (Shogren, 2013). The challenge is getting companies to go out of their way to prevent them.