A crude oil refinery in Krotz Springs, Louisiana.
A crude oil refinery in Krotz Springs, Louisiana. - 
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Pipelines like the one that shut down in Alabama are a weak link in the distribution of fuel, but that’s because the real chokepoint is the production of gasoline at refineries. Some parts of the country have no refineries (i.e. the Southeast) and so they depend on pipelines; others have barely enough refineries for their own needs. So when a pipeline goes down, the search for gasoline spreads far and wide.

Screenshot of a map showing refineries throughout the United States. See full interactive map at Refinery Report.
Screenshot of a map showing refineries throughout the United States. See full interactive map at Refinery Report. - 
Follow Andy Uhler at @andy_uhler