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Panic buying fuels gas supply issues in East

Published: May. 12, 2021 at 7:45 AM EDT
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(CNN) - More gas stations on the East Coast are running out of gas as people anxiously fill their tanks after a ransomware attack shut down a crucial pipeline.

There’s not a fuel shortage right now, but fear could fuel one.

A ransomware attack shut down the Colonial Pipeline on Friday. It is still mostly offline.

The 5,500-mile pipeline supplies about 45% of all fuel used on the East Coast, where nervous drivers have been lining up and filling up. Station after station is running out.

AAA said the price of a gallon of gas has shot up 6 cents in the last week, reaching $3.008 on Wednesday.

“It’s not that we have a gasoline shortage; it’s that we have this supply crunch.” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “Let me emphasize that much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline.”

By the end of Wednesday, Colonial Pipeline could make a decision about a full restart.

“This will be cleared up in a few days, maybe by the end of the week, if we’re lucky. The U.S. has a fairly large supply of gasoline in reserve,” said James Lewis, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

But just in case it’s delayed, a number of states and the Environmental Protection Agency have taken emergency steps to ease supply concerns, with four governors declaring states of emergency.

In the meantime, officials are asking for patience before pumping.

“It will take a few days to ramp up operations,” Granholm said.

Copyright 2021 CNN Newsource. All rights reserved. Gray Media Group, Inc., contributed to this report.