A cyber attack has crippled a major pipeline in the US. The administration of US President Joe Biden projected that the Colonial Pipeline, source of nearly half the fuel supply on the East Coast, would restart in a few days and urged drivers not to top up their tanks.
"We are asking people not to hoard," U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters at the White House. "Things will be back to normal soon."
Care to guess what everyone did? Even though government and industry officials said the nation had plenty of fuel and the pipeline was set to resume operations shortly, nervous drivers clogged gas stations and created shortages in parts of or all 11 states.
At least 12,000 gas stations reported being completely empty, and the squeeze pushed the price of a gallon past $3—the highest it has been since 2014. It's the toilet paper frenzy all over again.
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Many of these shortages have been caused by people's irresponsible hoarding. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, for example, told CNN on Wednesday that panic buying caused a gas supply problem in his state. With about 70% of Charlotte's gas stations out of fuel and price gouging complaints piling up across the state, Cooper said that they are working on multiple fronts to mitigate the problems at hand.
"I want this gas supply problem fixed as quickly as possible, and we are working with the local and federal officials, and the company to get that done. I have declared a state of emergency which would allow the transportation waivers for more trucks and heavier trucks to come into the state to bring gas, and we have a waiver from the EPA to increase the amount of fuel coming in," Cooper stated.
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The federal government, meanwhile, has loosened rules to make it easier for suppliers to refill storage, including lifting seasonal anti-smog requirements for gasoline and allowing fuel truckers to work longer hours.
CNN also reported that ransomware hackers demanded nearly $5 million from Colonial Pipeline, according to two sources familiar with the incident. But at this point, the company has not paid the ransom.
Colonial Pipeline restarted operations about 5 p.m. ET, the company said in a statement.
"Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal," the company said.
Colonial first announced it became a victim of the cyber-attack late last week, prompting a shutdown of operations into Wednesday. An interagency working group, with the Energy Department serving as lead agency, was assembled over the weekend, and officials assessed "multiple contingencies" in the event of a prolonged shutdown and decreased fuel supplies nationwide.
President Biden previewed the decision in remarks on Wednesday. Talking to reporters, he said: "We have been in very, very close contact with Colonial Pipeline, which is the one area you're talking about, where that's one of the reasons that gas prices are going up. And I think you're gonna hear some good news in the next 24 hours. And I think we'll be getting that under control."
We’ve Received Calls Into The Weartv Newsroom About This Gas Station In Escambia County Selling Regular Gas For $4.29/Gallon
Within a minute of our news car showing up, it was dropped to $3.29