The White House says it is monitoring fuel supply shortages in the southeast U.S. on Tuesday as the national average for gas soared to nearly $3 and long lines quickly formed at stations in many southern states after a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline.
A cybersecurity attack over the weekend caused the Colonial Pipeline to shut down its entire system, which extends along the East Coast from New York to Texas, and passes through Alabama. The ransomware attack hit the company's corporate computer systems – leaving some analysts fearing a surge in prices heading into summer, according to Politico.
According to AAA on Tuesday morning, the national average for gas stood at $2.985 – an increase of 60% from one year ago.
"The president continues to be regularly briefed on the Colonial Pipeline incident," the White House said in a statement. "The administration is continually assessing the impact of this ongoing incident on fuel supply for the East Coast. 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."
Colonial Pipeline is looking to bring its systems back online in a phased-in approach and expects to "substantially" restart operations by the end of the week, The Hill reported.
The company did not disclose what type of fuel Colonial is shipping in the stretch of pipe that runs from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Maryland, according to The Hill. But it did say the main lines from the refining hub near Houston to North Carolina remained shut down.
"We continue to evaluate product inventory in storage tanks at our facilities and others along our system and are working with our shippers to move this product to terminals for local delivery," the company said in a statement.
The pipeline ransomware attack has sparked concerns about shortages and rising gas prices.
Numerous stations in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida all reported being out of fuel by early Tuesday morning, according to the New York Post. A Costco-based gas station with about 2 dozen pumps in Jackson, Mississippi, had vehicles waiting 5 deep at each port.
"It was unbelievable," Yasheeka Wiggins told CBS in Florence, South Carolina. "When I was driving today, I thought it was a catastrophe coming! I've seen all these cars waiting and I was like, 'OMG. I have to fill my tank up!'"
The Hill reported, the pipeline accounts for almost half of the fuel supply for the East Coast and ships some 2.5 million barrels of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel daily.
"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," Homeland Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall told reporters.
The FBI confirmed Monday the DarkSide ransomware gang, which is based in Russia, was behind the attacks on the Colonial Pipeline networks, Politico said.
But Biden said there was no evidence the Kremlin was involved in the attack.
"They have some responsibility to deal with this," he said, noting the software to carry out the attack came from Russia.
And Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, told reporters: "Our intelligence community is looking for any ties to any nation-state actors, and if we find that further information, we'll look into it further."
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