TALLAHASSEE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Tuesday evening in response to gasoline shortages caused by the shutdown of a major pipeline by hackers.
The executive order signed by DeSantis activates the Florida National Guard, as needed, and directs state emergency management officials to work with federal and local officials.
Nikki Fried, the state’s agriculture and consumer services commissioner, warned consumers to avoid panic-buying and hoarding gas, as well as urging people not to form long lines at gas stations.
You may hear about potential disruptions to fuel supply, sales, and pricing in Florida.@FDACS is in contact with @EPA, @ENERGY, and the fuel industry. What you can do:— Commissioner Nikki Fried (@NikkiFriedFL) May 10, 2021
❌Don’t panic-buy gas
❌Don’t hoard gas
❌Don’t form long gas station lines
✅Call 800-HELP-FLA if questions pic.twitter.com/KMWWh3BgCq
In Florida, just 2% of the gas stations had run out of fuel. Nevertheless, consumers in the Panhandle are seeing long lines.
Notably, this photo was taken Tuesday night at a gas station in Durbin Park. An employee said the station was out of gasoline, but that it was expected to receive more within a few hours.
Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday suspended the collection of the gas tax in Georgia in response to the cyberattack.
The Colonial Pipeline, the biggest fuel pipeline in the U.S., delivering about 45% of what is consumed on the East Coast, was hit on Friday with a cyberattack by hackers who lock up computer systems and demand a ransom to release them. A large part of the pipeline resumed operations manually late Monday, and Colonial anticipates restarting most of its operations by the end of the week, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.
More than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast reported running out of fuel, primarily because of what analysts say is unwarranted panic-buying among drivers.
Florida has relaxed truck-weight restrictions to get more fuel on the road as demand for gasoline surged in some areas after a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which carries fuel to the nation’s East Coast, DeSantis said Tuesday.
“We really do need the federal government to step up and help, and we don’t want to see these long gas lines persist throughout the northern part of our state,” DeSantis said while at a bill-signing event in Jacksonville.
According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of unleaded in the Jacksonville market on Tuesday was 2.83. While local prices have been growing steadily since last November, the current price is actually down slightly from a two-year high of 2.87 recorded on March 25.
Average price of a gallon of gas in Jacksonville from January 2019 through May 11, 2021.
The auto club noted that Florida gets most of its fuel through seaports from Gulf Coast refineries.
The cyberattack, believed to be by a Russian group called Dark Side, resulted in the pipeline temporarily halting operations on Friday. The pipeline transports fuel from Texas to the Northeast, providing about 45 percent of the East Coast’s supply.
A decision about fully resuming operations on the mail pipeline is expected Wednesday. Some smaller lines remain in operation.
“Things will be back to normal soon, (and) we’re asking people not to hoard … we’re all over this,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters Tuesday during the White House press briefing.
The order will expire in 30 days unless extended. Here’s a copy of the document signed by the governor: