Americans will be forced to dole out more cash at the pump in the coming weeks, as gas prices have hit their highest national average in six years.
As The New York Times reported, gas prices were already on the rise with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries leaving production cuts in place into 2021, along with the Biden administration halting federal oil and gas leases.
As for the pipeline, the hack has even created gas shortages in the southeast, with videos of long lines at gas stations circulating on the internet.
— Chris Jenkins CBS6 (@JenkinsCBS6) May 11, 2021
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) May 11, 2021
The Colonial Pipeline is responsible for carrying 45 percent of all fuel on the East Coast, according to The Washington Post, meaning that the shortage could quickly worsen if operations do not resume soon.
“So far there is no evidence based on — from our intelligence people that Russia is involved although there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia. They have some responsibility to deal with this,” President Joe Biden said Monday.
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 10, 2021
While the cyberattack put the final nail in the coffin, there were already concerns that there would be a gas shortage this summer.
The presumed shortage had to do with a lack of tank truck drivers, who transport gas to local stations.
“We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it,” the executive vice president of the National Tank Truck Carrier, Ryan Streblow, told CNN. “It certainly has grown exponentially.”
Seven states in the southeast are being tracked by Gasbuddy’s Patrick De Haan, whoreported that North Carolina and Virginia appear to be hardest hit with 6.3 percent and 7.6 percent of gas stations experiencing outages, respectively.
GASOLINE OUTAGES as of 11am CT:
— Patrick De Haan ⛽️📊 (@GasBuddyGuy) May 11, 2021
While Biden cannot wave a magic wand and make gas prices cheaper, he can adopt a larger role in getting to the bottom of the Colonial Pipeline incident.
The administration already lifted a key environmental regulation to allow regular gasoline to be sold in areas where only reformulated gasoline is allowed, Fortune reported.
“I have determined that an ‘extreme and unusual fuel [ ] supply circumstance’ exists that will prevent the distribution of an adequate supply of compliant gasoline to consumers,” Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan said in a letter.
“This extreme and unusual fuel circumstance is the result of a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline’s computer systems, an event that could not reasonably have been foreseen and is not attributable to a lack of prudent planning on the part of suppliers of the fuel to these areas.”
“Furthermore, I have determined that it is in the public interest to grant this waiver and that this waiver applies to the smallest geographic area necessary to address the fuel supply circumstances.”
Biden and his administration must continue to get to the bottom of the ransomware attack and continue to evolve in their understanding of how overly strict environmental regulations impact consumers. It may already be too late in the southeast, but urgent action needs to be taken in order to avoid a nationwide crisis.
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