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Gas_Cyber_Security The fuel shortage we were afraid of has arrived well ahead of schedule and leaving parts of the East Coast running on empty. 

The fuel shortage we were afraid of has arrived well ahead of schedule and leaving parts of the East Coast running on empty. 


Several gas stations along the East Coast ran out of fuel Tuesday as worried drivers aggressively filled their tanks. The run on fuel began after a ransomware attack Friday shut down the Colonial Pipeline, a massive 5,500-mile artery that supplies nearly half of all the gas and diesel used on the East Coast. As of Tuesday, most of the pipeline remained offline. Here’s the latest: 

  • Bone dry: On Tuesday, 8.5% of gas stations in North Carolina and nearly 8% in Virginia didn't have gasoline, according to GasBuddy, a site that tracks fuel prices and demand. Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina also reported outages. Even GasBuddy itself reported website outages as result of “extreme traffic.” 
  • Prices spike: As demand shot up, the national price at the pump hit $2.985 on Tuesday, the highest level in nearly six years, according to AAA.
  • Emergency measures: Virginia's governor declared a state of emergency. Georgia, North Carolina and other state governments also stepped in to ease supply concerns. The EPA issued an emergency fuel waiver. 

  • A plea: US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urged Americans not to hoard gas. The company that operates the pipeline expected it to be substantially operational by the end of the week.

  • The dreaded I-word: Concerns about inflation and supply chain disruptions sparked a selloff on Wall Street (more on that later). 


Taking this pipeline offline for days on end would cause headaches even in normal times. But there are two big reasons the attack couldn’t have come at a worse time:  

  1. The gas shortage was already being felt because of a dearth of tanker truck drivers available to transport it.   

  2. Millions of Americans, spurred by Covid-19 vaccines and eager for a change of scenery, are gearing up for summer road trips. If panic-buying continues because they don’t trust the supply, the shortages may be harder to alleviate.  

The best thing for car owners to do right now is to take a deep breath and don't rush to fill your tanks unless you have to. A big part of the problem is panic, Tiffany Wright of AAA Carolinas said. "We are our own worst enemy in this situation because we are over-consuming at the pump."

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