WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The nation’s largest fuel pipeline, Colonial Pipeline, says it’s restarting operations after being shut down for nearly six days due to a foreign cyberattack.
The pause prompted a full-scale panic among drivers in the Southeast and East Coast, which were hardest hit. Some gas stations saw fuel shortages and gas prices spike to nearly $3.
The U.S. Energy secretary says she expects fuel prices and supply to return to normal as early as this weekend.
In the meantime, President Joe Biden’s administration is continuing to deploy emergency orders to try and cut down on the red tape and expedite fuel to areas most in need.
The Biden administration is hoping the recent panic at the pump will calm.
“No need to panic, it’s coming to you. Things will be back to normal and there’s no need to hoard gasoline,” U.S Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.
Granholm says her agency is working side by side with Colonial Pipeline to ensure gasoline gets to areas hardest hit quickly.
“So there is fuel in the pipeline,” Granholm said. “It is going to take a couple of days. Gasoline that goes through a pipeline only goes at 5 miles an hour.”
Right now, states across the East Coast and Southeast — like Tennessee, Florida, New Jersey and Virginia — have seen gas shortages and prices surge.
The White House says it is in close contact with local leaders to help.
“From Gov. Hogan of Maryland, to Gov. Northam of Virginia, to Gov. Wolf of Pennsylvania,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
The recent attack, orchestrated by a Russian cybercriminal gang, is the latest in a series of foreign cyberattacks aimed at U.S. companies and the federal government itself.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say this should be a wake-up call.
“We have to make sure companies like Colonial and others have infrastructure that’s protected. That’s on them to make investments. It’s also on us at the federal level to work with them,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, said.
On Wednesday, Biden signed an executive order to jumpstart that effort and bolster the nation’s cyber defense.
“We need significant more experts in cybersecurity,” Biden said.
According to a White House statement, the executive order aims to modernize cybersecurity defenses by protecting not only federal networks, but also improving information sharing with private sectors.