Multiple gas stations are without fuel along the East Coast following a ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline earlier this week. Nervous drivers filling up multiple containers threatens to worsen the problem.
Rising outages are also being reported at gas stations in Georgia (8.0%), Florida (3.0%) and South Carolina (5.9%), according to GasBuddy, which collects user reports and shares the information with the government during emergencies. In just five states served by Colonial Pipeline — Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia — demand was up by a collective 40.1%, GasBuddy said.
The immediate pinch in likely to be felt by commercial drivers as well as the motoring public.
As an emergency measure, the White House has issued an order to allow some truck drivers transporting fuel to work overtime to keep the supply lines moving. The DOT also is allowing nine Southern states and New Jersey to use the interstates to transport overweight loads of gasoline and other fuels.
“USDOT’s top priority is safety and while current circumstances dictate providing industry flexibility, FMCSA will work closely with its state and industry partners to monitor driver work hours and conditions for the duration of the exemption,” the agency said in a news release detailing its efforts to help mitigate potential impacts of the pipeline disruption.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a state of emergency declaration Tuesday afternoon “to prepare and coordinate our response” to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. Northam said that while gasoline reserves in Virginia are “sufficient to address immediate supply concerns, he acknowledged that a prolonged pipeline closure will cause “gasoline supply disruptions to various retailers.”
In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order suspending the state’s gas tax to help drivers cope with higher prices caused by the Colonial Pipeline hack. Kemp’s order also allows for increased weight limits for trucks transporting fuel and prohibits price gouging.
Meanwhile, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Monday evening, a move that allowed him to temporarily suspend some fuel regulations in a bid to ensure adequate supply.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also declared a state of emergency for the Sunshine State on Tuesday, as the disruption of fuel supplies pose “a severe threat to the State of Florida and requires that immediate measures be taken to protect and to facilitate the continued delivery of such fuel products to this State.” DeSantis also ordered the Adjutant General to activate the Florida National Guard, as needed, to deal with the emergency.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey urged residents not to panic and “only fill up if you need to, and do not fill up multiple containers.”
The Colonial Pipeline, which supplies nearly half the diesel and gasoline to the East Coast, said Monday it hopes to be substantially operational by the end of the week after a hack that authorities believe was carried out by a criminal group called DarkSide.