Latest on the US gas demand spikes

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:25 AM ET, Wed May 12, 2021
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4:09 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

These are some of the states that have declared a state of emergency over gas shortages

Customers wait in line to purchase fuel at the Duck-Thru in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, on Tuesday, May 11.
Customers wait in line to purchase fuel at the Duck-Thru in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, on Tuesday, May 11. Robert Willett/The News & Observer/AP

Georgia has joined a growing list of states declaring a state of emergency over potential gas shortages.

Shortly after 2 p.m. ET Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a state of emergency declaration "to prepare and coordinate our response to the voluntary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline due to a cyber-attack," according to the declaration.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Monday evening, a move that allowed him to temporarily suspend some fuel regulations in a bid to ensure adequate supply.

That makes a total of at least three US states implementing emergency measures to ensure fuel doesn't run dry:

  • Georgia
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina

A number of gas stations along the East Coast are currently out of fuel after drivers aggressively filled up their tanks following a ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline, a critical artery for gasoline.

The national price at the pump hit $2.985 on Tuesday, the highest level in nearly six years, according to AAA.

The Colonial Pipeline, which supplies nearly half the diesel and gasoline to the East Coast, said Monday it hopes to be substantially operational by the end of the week.

4:06 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

State of emergency declared in Georgia as a result of gas shortage

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

A gasoline station that ran out of gas for sale displays an out of service sign on the pump on Tuesday, May 11, in Atlanta.
A gasoline station that ran out of gas for sale displays an out of service sign on the pump on Tuesday, May 11, in Atlanta. Ben Margot/AP

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency on Monday as a result of the gas shortage from the May 7, 2021 cyber-attack on the Colonial Pipeline, according to a release from the Georgia Office of the Attorney General.

The state of emergency will remain in effect through 11:59 p.m. ET on May 15, 2021, the release said.

When the state of emergency was declared, Georgia’s price gouging statutes were also activated.

According to the release, this means that while the state of emergency remains in effect, businesses will not be allowed to charge more for products and services identified by the Governor, including motor fuel and diesel fuel. 

“While we believe this to be a short-term event, we do not want consumers to be taken advantage of,” Attorney General Carr said. “Our office will review all price gouging complaints received to ensure the law is followed.”

 

3:44 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

These are the measures the Transportation Department is considering to try to ease fuel delivery

From CNN's Greg Wallace

Federal officials said Tuesday they are considering additional ways to ease fuel delivery up the East Coast, addressing outages caused by panic buying in response to the Colonial Pipeline hack. 

The Transportation Department said it is surveying the capabilities of US-flagged ships to transport fuel to costal ports. It expects to complete the survey later on Tuesday, and, if warranted, would consider asking the Homeland Security Department to allow for foreign-flagged ships to make deliveries.

The federal Jones Act generally restricts foreign-flagged vessels from both picking up and delivering goods such as fuel within the country. 

Officials said they are looking for ways to streamline the delivery of fuel from the coast to inland locations by rail.  

Federal highway regulators also expanded the area subject to relaxed trucking restrictions. 

West Virginia now makes the 18th state where hours of service rules – which regulate the length of workday and rest periods for drivers – are waived for truckers handling fuel. 

3:35 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

"Extreme traffic" causing GasBuddy app and website to experience "slowdowns"

From CNN’s Paul Murphy

GasBuddy, an online website and app that helps drivers find gas and gas prices, confirmed to CNN the site is experiencing "slowdowns" because of "extreme traffic" relating to the Colonial Pipeline outage.  

Company spokesperson Patrick DeHaan confirmed to CNN that, "nothing nefarious" was behind the site issues, saying that, "extreme traffic to our services and app likely due to the intense interest in fueling related to the Colonial Pipeline outage" was behind it.  

A number of users have sent messages to the company on social media, complaining that the gas availability data was out-of-date.  

"We [are] scraping by but trying to keep the boat afloat and dousing the fires as quickly as we can," DeHaan went onto say. "We’re just absolutely overwhelmed with some of the highest traffic to the app we’ve ever seen — our amazing engineering teams are feverishly working on adjusting as necessary to keep everything running normally."

DeHaan said that users may experience some "periodic timeouts" using the website or app.

 

3:32 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

North Carolina price gouging law goes into effect in response to Colonial Pipeline cyberattack

From CNN’s Dianne Gallagher and Keith Allen

Cars line up to fill their gas tanks at a Costco at Tyvola Road in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 11.
Cars line up to fill their gas tanks at a Costco at Tyvola Road in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 11. Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty Images

A day after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in response to the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and temporary shutdown, the state’s price gouging law has gone into effect, according to a news release from North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

According to the law, businesses impacted by the incident that triggered the state of emergency may “have a reasonable need to increase prices in order to resupply, but they should disclose these increases and allow people to make informed purchasing decisions,” Stein said in the statement.

Businesses cannot “unreasonably” raise prices as a means to turn a profit from the emergency, the law states.

“The hackers who breached Colonial Pipeline’s systems have made it harder for hardworking North Carolinians to go about their lives, but I will not allow businesses to take advantage of this incident to charge excessive prices,” Stein added.

3:22 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Small gas station chain in Georgia and South Carolina begins limiting gas purchases

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Small gas station chain, Parker's, announced on Facebook on Tuesday that customers would be limited to $50 worth of gas.  

The rationing is a result of the Colonial Pipeline being shut down, they said in a Facebook post. Now, all fuel purchases made at Parker's — they have 68 locations in Georgia and South Carolina — will be limited to $50 per customer.

"The Parker’s fuel team is working diligently to keep our tanks filled in the wake of this unexpected situation," the chain wrote on Facebook. "While we understand that this is an inconvenience, know that we are doing everything we can to source fuel and keep gas readily available for our customers."

3:18 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

South Carolina attorney general announces price gouging law in effect due to pipeline disruption

From CNN's Kelsie Smith

South Carolina's price gouging law is in effect after Attorney General Alan Wilson announced on Tuesday that he declared an abnormal disruption in the market following the hacking of the Colonial Pipeline.

“I’m urging everyone to be careful and be patient,” said Wilson in a press release. “We hope this gas shortage will last just a few days, but we must be wary of individuals looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging. According to state law, price gouging constitutes a criminal violation and an unfair trade practice."

The law prohibits unreasonable prices during times of disaster. Offenders can be punished with a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail. 

Wilson asked those who witness any price gouging to contact his office. “I urge citizens to remain vigilant and notify my office immediately if you believe you have witnessed or are aware of price gouging," he said. 

3:06 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Energy secretary urges Americans not to hoard gas as spike in demand hits several states

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm holds a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on May 11.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm holds a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on May 11. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm urged Americans not to hoard gas amid a spike in demand, following the ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline along the East Coast.

Granholm said that Colonial expects to substantially restore operations by the end of the week, but even after a possible decision to fully restart the supply of gas through the pipeline, it will take a few days to ramp up operations.

 "And still I want to be clear that these states who are impacted, even with the turning on of the pipeline system, they still may feel a supply crunch as Colonial fully resumes. But the American people can feel assured that this administration is working with the company to get it resumed as soon as possible,” Granholm said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing.

Despite that, Granholm said Americans should not buy gas they don’t need, this as some gas stations have run out of fuel.

“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, especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend,” she said.

A number of gas stations along the East Coast are currently out of fuel after drivers aggressively filled up their tanks following the attack on the Colonial Pipeline.

As of 11 a.m. ET Tuesday, 7.6% of the gas stations in Virginia and 5.8% in North Carolina didn't have gasoline, according to outage figures reported by GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand.

Granholm also called on gas station owners to act responsibly and not price gouge during the supply crunch. 

“I do want to say this, that we expect that gas station owners are and should act responsibly. We will have no tolerance for price gouging. Federal and state officials will be investigating those actions if they see price gouging and we are urging consumers to report any price gouging to their state attorneys general,” Granholm said.

3:52 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Virginia governor declares state of emergency due to potential statewide gas shortages 

From CNN's Melissa Alonso and Matt Egan

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday issued a state of emergency declaration "to prepare and coordinate our response to the voluntary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline due to a cyber-attack," according to the declaration.

Northam said, "if prolonged, the pipeline closure will result in gasoline supply disruptions to various retailers throughout the Commonwealth, since the pipeline is the primary source of gasoline to many Virginia retailers."

According to the governor, "while current gasoline reserves in the Commonwealth are sufficient to address immediate supply concerns, a long-term disruption in the pipelines will require transportation of fuel and other oil-derivatives via interstate and state roadways."

The declaration directs all "state and local governments to render appropriate assistance to alleviate any conditions resulting from the situation."

As of 11 a.m. ET, 7.6% of the gas stations in Virginia don’t have fuel, according to outage figures reported by GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand.

See the governor's tweet: