President Joe Biden said he expects “good news” soon about a major fuel pipeline that was shut down by a ransomware attack last week and that he would allow the military to help transport gas to parts of the country that are running out.
“I think you’re going to hear some good news in the next 24 hours and I think we’ll be getting that under control,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. He didn’t elaborate.
In the meantime, he said, “I’ve lifted some of the restrictions on the transportation of fuel as well as access to the United States military providing fuel, and with vehicles to get it there, places where it’s badly needed.”
The Colonial Pipeline system has been shut down for five days since the cyberattack. U.S. pump prices topped $3 for the first time in six years as drivers lined up for scarce gas across the East Coast.
Biden said the attack demonstrated the need for U.S. investments in education to improve the nation’s cyber defenses. He’s proposed some $4 trillion in spending on infrastructure, social welfare and education programs.
“We need a significantly larger number of experts in the area of cyber security working for private companies, as well as private companies being willing to share data as to how they’re protecting themselves,” he said. “I think that’s part of the long-term answer, not just in terms of energy but across the board.”
Colonial Pipeline reportedly has no plans to pay rumored $5 million-plus ransom to Russian hackers who have paralyzed the key gas pipeline, according to the Daily Mail.
Critics of the administration are already blaming the escalating situation on Biden, demanding specifics on what his administration is doing to ease the crisis, which entered its sixth day on Wednesday as shortages spread from Baltimore south to Florida.
The Mail quoted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as saying: "I think this is something that demands really serious federal attention. This was essentially a cyberattack on critical infrastructure in our country.
'You can't just say it's a private pipeline therefore, we're not going to be involved. No, the U.S. government needs to be involved. They need to help mitigate this,' said DeSantis.
The Biden administration insists that it is taking steps to address the crisis, by relaxing regulations on trucking to help resupply dry stations and weighing rules suspensions that will facilitate fuel transfers between ports.
The Mail said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg insisted the White House is acting aggressively to get fuel where it's needed.
Both he and the Consumer Product Safety Commission also issued an extraordinary caution to consumers not to fill up plastic baggs with gasoline.
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