failing infrastructure

Over-pressurized gas lines destroy dozens of homes in Massachusetts

Thanks for all the clean, safe, reliable, occasionally dangerous as hell energy:

A series of gas explosions an official described as "Armageddon" killed a teenager, injured at least 10 other people and ignited fires in at least 39 homes in three communities north of Boston on Thursday, forcing entire neighborhoods to evacuate as crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off the gas. Massachusetts State Police urged all residents with homes serviced by Columbia Gas in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover to evacuate, snarling traffic and causing widespread confusion as residents and local officials struggled to understand what was happening.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency blamed the fires on gas lines that had become over-pressurized but said investigators were still examining what happened. Columbia had announced earlier Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighborhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened. It was not clear whether work was happening there Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not return calls.

One of the (many) drawbacks to using natural gas is that "all" lines require pressure, and that pressure is relative to the size and distance the gas must travel. The big pipelines require an extreme amount of pressure, which is one of the things that make them so dangerous. But even small lines that serve individual homes or businesses require pressure, and just a modest increase can result in fugitive emissions (leaks). And when those gas lines have been in place for decades, the danger becomes much more acute:

Another Trump "bright idea" goes down in flames

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All those "beautiful" bridges and roads will just have to wait:

President Trump’s legislative framework for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure appears all but dead in Congress. Lawmakers are focused on other legislative matters, and Democrats say the latest “infrastructure week” that started Sunday has done little to reinvigorate the president’s plan.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told The Hill Wednesday that there has been no movement on a bill with Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). “As far as I know, it’s been shredded, or burned, or something. It doesn’t exist,” DeFazio said Wednesday of the president’s rebuilding blueprint.

Frankly, I'm more than a little relieved. North Carolina is already suffering from the NC GOP's efforts to push critical funding down to the county and municipal level, and another $1.5 Trillion "buy-in" from the Trump administration is a hell of a lot more than we can afford. From Wake to Alamance Counties and several points in-between, we've got huge school bonds on November's ballot, and there just isn't any "extra" local funding lying around to be drawn into another Donald Trump pyramid scheme:

Exploring NC's gas tax conundrum

It's not as cut-and-dried as you might think:

The gas tax is a major revenue source for transportation projects such as repairing bridges, repaving roadways, and building highways. The failure of the current gas tax (and other transportation funding sources) to support these important public services means that backlogs for both maintenance and repairs projects persist. The state Department of Transportation estimates that North Carolina faces a $60 billion shortfall for transportation improvements through 2040, and that the state needs to come up with $32 billion just to keep the status quo.

I am genuinely conflicted on this issue, and it's doubtful I will be able to find a comfortable position on either side. I also find little comfort in the fact that infrastructure is crumbling all across the country, and not just in North Carolina. In response to a comment I made on Facebook about the regressive nature of the gas tax, Mark Turner made a good point:

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