Biden urges people not to panic about gasoline shortages
President Biden on Thursday urged the public not to panic about gasoline shortages and warned people against hoarding gas, which analysts have said is the major factor in the lack of gasoline seen in a number of states on the East Coast.
“Don’t panic,” Biden said in prepared remarks at the White House. “I know seeing lines at the pumps or gas stations with no gas can be extremely stressful, but this is a temporary situation. Do not get more gas than you need in the next few days.”
“We expect the situation to begin to improve by the weekend and into early next week and gasoline supply is coming back online,” he added. “Panic-buying will only slow the process.”
The shortages followed a cyberattack late last week on Colonial Pipeline, after which the operator announced it would shut down. The company restarted its operations on Wednesday.
But Biden said that people won’t see the impacts of Colonial Pipeline’s restart at the pumps immediately.
“This is not like flicking on a light switch,” he said.
“Now they have to safely and fully return to normal operations and it’s going to take some time and there may be some hiccups,” he added.
Instead, he said to expect a “region-by-region” return to normalcy “beginning this weekend and continuing into next week.”
Several states in the Southeast are seeing significant shortages following the pipeline’s shutdown over the weekend, but analysts said this was largely due to panic-buying rather than what was going on with the vessel.
As of Thursday afternoon, 73 percent of gas stations in Washington D.C., 69 percent of gas stations in North Carolina, 52 percent of gas stations in South Carolina and 51 percent of gas stations in Virginia were without gas, according to Patrick De Haan, an analyst with the gas price website GasBuddy, which uses crowdsourced data.
Other states also saw significant outages, with 49 percent of stations in Georgia, 38 percent of stations in Maryland and 33 percent of stations in Tennessee going dry.
Updated at 1:37 p.m.