The Biden administration on Tuesday said hoarding gasoline isn’t necessary and warned gas stations against price gouging, as officials worked to respond to the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack that has led some stations in the Southeast to run out of fuel.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and southern Virginia are most affected by the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline’s fuel artery following the attack.
“We know that we have gasoline. We just have to get it to the right places, and that’s why these next couple of days, I think, will be challenging” Granholm told reporters during a briefing.
“It’s not that we have a gasoline shortage. It’s that we have this supply crunch, and that things will be back to normal soon, and that we’re asking people not to hoard and know that we are all over this,” she added.
In addition, Granholm warned owners of gas stations against price gouging and urged consumers to report gouging to their state’s attorney general if they see it. She also made a reference to the run on toilet paper during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let me emphasize that much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline, especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend,” she said during the briefing.
The remarks from Granholm and other top officials in the Biden administration came Tuesday as Colonial Pipeline aims to restore service substantially on its East Coast fuel artery by the end of the week.
Granholm said one of Colonial’s main lines resumed operation on Monday night “under manual control,” and the company’s CEO has indicated it “will be in a position to make the full restart decision” by “close of business” on Wednesday. But it will take a few days to ramp up operations, the energy secretary added.
Earlier Tuesday, the administration said its response to the pipeline attack included moving to temporarily waive the Jones Act, a law that requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported on U.S.-owned and operated vessels. The responses also include the Environmental Protection Agency’s issuance of a waiver on fuel blends for affected states in a bid to boost supply where needed.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said officials are working not only to address the Colonial Pipeline attack but also to “really focus on critical infrastructure, and what we can do to strengthen that critical infrastructure across our government, and to make it more resilient to these types of attacks, and to raise awareness so that everyone understands the need to prevent and be in a position to respond to these attacks.”
The White House on Monday said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the cyberattack, and Biden said later Monday that the Department of Energy was working with Colonial to get its network back online as quickly as possible.