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Nevada’s governor declares State of Emergency after fuel pipeline leak

By Francis Walshe
|
February 13, 2023

A leak in a gas pipeline between Las Vegas and Los Angeles has caused major disquiet for some residents of the major Nevada city. And with a number of pipelines temporarily out of operation, there is a possibility some people could face shortages.

What Happened?

According to an Axios report, the leak first became apparent at a pumping station on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Officials at Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, the company that owns the station, made the decision to shut down fuel lines pending an investigation.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the company stressed there were "no injuries or fire reported as a result of this incident." It also noted its plans for "an investigation into the cause and quantity of the release."

The company added that they “are working closely with [their] customers on potential impacts."

The statement did not indicate when the affected pipelines would be operational again, or how much gas was lost.

The AP noted that it submitted requests for additional information, but the company's spokesperson did not respond in time for the publication of the article.

Officials Respond

Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo (R) declared a state of emergency in relation to the situation on Friday, February 10. He noted the move "will allow [Nevada] to receive federal waivers and resources" to deal with the financial fallout of the leak, and to "increase transportation of fuel by other means."

He added that his office was "in constant communication with Kinder Morgan, the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, and Clark County officials."

Lombardo concluded by appealing to "all Las Vegas residents to avoid panic buying while awaiting repair timeline updates.” However, there is evidence many of the city's inhabitants have ignored the governor's plea.

Queues for Gas

A report from local outlet KTNV detailed the situation outside one gas station near Cheyenne Avenue in the Las Vegas area. One driver told journalist Jim Flint that he believed either gas prices are going to go up, or we're going to run out of gas, and I need to get around this weekend."

Another driver who was waiting to stock up on gas told Flint he needed fuel for his business, saying, “I might run out of gas."

The Response in Clark County

Clark County officials announced their own state of emergency alongside that of Governor Lombardo.

The official statement, released on the county's Twitter page, noted it was requesting fewer restrictions on trucking and "other delivery methods to bring fuel into Clark County." Adding that the issue was not with the supply of fuel, but "the method in which this fuel normally comes into Clark County."

The department stated they are committed to leaving "no stone unturned as we seek to continue to provide unleaded and diesel fuel to our residents as well as our emergency response providers."

In a separate statement to the Associated Press, Clark County representative Erik Pappa said officials were monitoring the situation, believe we have adequate supply, and do not anticipate an immediate impact on gas availability."

Previous Incidents Involving Kinder Morgan

This is just the latest of a number of leak incidents involving Kinder Morgan.

In 2020, California Attorney General Rob Bonta handed down a fine of $2.5 million to the firm over a leak in the state that leaked substantial quantities of gas into a water channel, Mercury News reported.

Bonta stated at the time that the verdict was intended to "serve as a reminder to corporate polluters everywhere: If you endanger our communities and environment by failing to follow the law, you will be held accountable."

In a separate incident, a Kinder Morgan gas pipeline in Illinois spilled gas last year due to cold weather, reported Axios.