White House monitoring fuel shortages in southeastern US from cyberattack

Colonial Pipeline company in Baltimore
Getty Images

The Biden administration is monitoring fuel supply shortages in the southeastern United States after the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, the White House said in a statement late Monday.

“The President continues to be regularly briefed on the Colonial Pipeline incident. The Administration is continually assessing the impact of this ongoing incident on fuel supply for the East Coast,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

“We are monitoring supply shortages in parts of the Southeast and are evaluating every action the Administration can take to mitigate the impact as much as possible. The President has directed agencies across the Federal Government to bring their resources to bear to help alleviate shortages where they may occur,” she added.

Officials said earlier Monday afternoon that there hadn’t been signs of fuel shortages but that the administration was monitoring the situation and considering potential steps to mitigate disruptions.

“We’re working with other agencies to consider how if necessary we can move supplies to a place where it might be needed if it turns out there is a shortfall,” President Biden’s homeland security adviser, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, told reporters at a White House briefing.

Colonial Pipeline, the largest oil supplier in the northeastern U.S., shut down operations after a ransomware attack was reported late Friday. The company expects to “substantially” restart operations by the end of the week using a phased approach to bring systems back online.

Colonial Pipeline accounts for almost half of the East Coast’s fuel supply and ships some 2.5 million barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel daily. As a result, the developments have led to concerns about shortages and rising gas prices.

Reuters reported that Southern states like Alabama, Florida and Georgia could be the first to see gas prices rise due to the shutdown.

The Transportation Department over the weekend issued an emergency waiver allowing drivers transporting gasoline, diesel and jet fuel across 17 states and Washington, D.C., to operate beyond the 11-hour daily limits.

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a fuel waiver for Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C., temporarily lifting requirements on fuel meant to reduce ozone emissions in order to boost fuel supply in those areas to balance potential disruptions. The waiver extends through May 18. 

“We’re prepared to take additional steps, depending on how quickly the company is able to bring its pipeline back to full operational capacity,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday before a speech on the economy.

Updated May 11, 11:41 a.m.

Tags Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack fuel pipeline Jen Psaki Joe Biden Ransomware

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