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How is Florida Affected by Gas Pipelines

There are currently four interstate gas pipelines in addition to two intrastate pipelines in the state of Florida. The use of pipelines allows for large amounts of natural gas to be transported over long distances. It's the easiest and most efficient way of transporting and delivering natural gas. Natural gas is used to heat buildings, heat water, cook, light outdoor areas, and fuel combined heat and power systems.

Natural gas burns cleaner than coal and is also more widely available, which is why 25 percent of the country's electricity comes from natural gas.

However, there are pros and cons to consider when it comes to the construction of gas pipelines in Florida, especially when it comes to potential long-term effects.

There are many critics who are against further pipeline construction in Florida. They will likely point to green energy alternatives, such as solar energy and wind energy, as reasons for forgoing future plans to construct new gas pipelines. There have also been a number of high-profile controversies involving pipelines in the U.S. over the past few years (including the Dakota pipeline) that have tarnished the reputation of pipeline construction in general.

There are also a number of other potential drawbacks to consider, especially involving the actual construction of gas pipelines. As such, it's critical to evaluate both the benefits and drawbacks before supporting the construction of new pipelines. With that in mind, the following are the pros and cons of building new gas pipelines in Florida:

Filling nozzles at a Shell gas station

The Pros of Building New Gas Pipelines

Natural gas is still needed

Despite the growing popularity of alternative energies, we still depend on natural gas in both the residential and commercial sectors. The alternative (or "green") energy sector and infrastructure simply isn't established enough to be able to handle anywhere near the population of Florida at this time.

Pipelines are the best way to transport gas

The safest way to transport natural gas is through pipelines. It's estimated that 66 percent of all crude oil and refined products, as well as almost 100 percent of all natural gas, are delivered via pipelines in the U.S. It's simply safer and faster to do so through pipelines as it results in fewer GHG emissions than other forms of transport (such as by truck, train, or ship).

Pipeline construction and maintenance is strictly regulated

It's estimated that 99.99 percent of all pipeline transports are made safely every year. This is because there are strict safety regulations in place in North America. Billions of dollars are invested every year to maintain pipeline integrity, conduct thorough inspections, and perform pipeline research and development.

Leaks are unlikely to happen

As you can imagine, pipeline leaks can be catastrophic. However, the strict regulations help prevent such leaks from occurring. Pipelines are built using incredibly durable steel with fusion bonded epoxy coatings and are constructed with mechanized welding. Automated ultrasonic testing along with laser mapping for corrosion and metal loss help ensure that the pipelines maintain their integrity over the years.

Construction can create jobs

Building a new gas pipeline is a massive project, which means it could create thousands of new jobs in Florida.

The Cons of Building New Gas Pipelines

They are not 100 percent safe

Despite all of the efforts that go into preventing leaks, gas pipelines are still transporting dangerous substances. Crude oil and natural gas are both flammable. One minor malfunction in the pipeline's operation could result in a catastrophe. For example, in 2019, a gas pipeline in Kentucky ruptured, killing one person and injuring five others. Five homes were also destroyed in the accident.

The boost to the economy construction provides is temporary

Although pipeline construction does create jobs, those jobs will go away once the pipeline is completed after a few years.

Pipelines are not emission-free

The focus on environmental and personal safety regulations has led to a significant reduction in emissions when it comes to gas pipeline construction. However, they are not 100 percent emission-free. This is because the components must still be manufactured and installed, both of which do result in emissions that contribute to global warming.

Local air quality can be affected

Gas and oil are corrosive, which means constant monitoring and maintenance are required on existing pipelines. Components need to be repaired and replaced regularly to prevent leaks. This process alone can actually hurt the environment.

Leaks can cause massive environmental damage

Despite efforts to prevent leaks, they still happen.  Many of these leaks happen due to equipment, material, or welding failures as well as due to excavation damage. Not only are gas leaks dangerous due to how flammable gas is, but they will also contribute to global warming.

As you can see, there's a lot to consider when determining whether new gas pipelines should be built in Florida. It's important to weigh both the pros and cons of gas pipeline construction before determining where you stand on the issue.

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