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Panic buying, gas hoarding mount as pipeline shutdown drags on

CBS News logo CBS News 5/12/2021 CBSNews
a group of people standing in a parking lot: Pipeline Cybersecurity Attack © Chris Carlson / AP Pipeline Cybersecurity Attack

The company that runs the Colonial Pipeline hopes to restore much of its operations by the end of the week. Until then, reports CBS News' Laura Podesta, government officials and industry experts are sounding the alarm about drivers making matters worse by panic buying and hoarding gas.

Long lines continued popping up at many gas stations Tuesday, especially in the Southeast. Many were running out of gas. And some were jacking up prices.

S&P's Oil Price Information Service said more than 1,000 stations were experiencing shortages, The Associated Press reported. "A lot of that is because they're selling three or four times as much gasoline that they normally sell in a given day, because people do panic. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," S&P analyst Tom Klouza told the AP.

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It all began after a ransomware attack targeted the pipeline Friday, forcing the company to shut it down. The FBI says a hacking group known as Darkside, believed to be based in Russia, was behind it.

The 5,500 mile pipeline supplies 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel. Shortages were reported in at least 7 states.

a group of people standing in front of a car: A customer helps pump gas at a Costco as other wait in line on May 11, 2021, in Charlotte, North Carolina. / Credit: Chris Carlson / AP © Provided by CBS News A customer helps pump gas at a Costco as other wait in line on May 11, 2021, in Charlotte, North Carolina. / Credit: Chris Carlson / AP

Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia have declared states of emergency.


Video: Panic buying causes gas shortages after pipeline cyberattack (CBS News)

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American Airlines said it was adding stops to some long-haul flights so planes could re-fuel.

At a gas station in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, Annelise Onorato said, "I think we're going to go on a wild goose chase."

In Pensacola, Florida, Danielle Charles said the situation was "worse than a hurricane"

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm stressed that, "It's not that we have a gasoline shortage -- it's that we have a supply crunch, and things will be back to normal soon."

The Energy Department waived some environmental and safety rules to speed up fuel deliveries.

Steve Ray, of Midnite Oil and Tires in Chattanooga, Tennessee said, "We put a stop to the can sales today. People were coming in and trying to buy five and ten cans worth of gasoline, they're just hoarding it."

a parking meter: A note posted at a gas pump indicates the pump is out of premium gasoline at a Costco Warehouse fuel station on May 11, 2021, in Ridgeland, Mississippi. / Credit: Rogelio V. Solis / AP © Provided by CBS News A note posted at a gas pump indicates the pump is out of premium gasoline at a Costco Warehouse fuel station on May 11, 2021, in Ridgeland, Mississippi. / Credit: Rogelio V. Solis / AP

The AAA's Morgan Dean noted that, "Panic buying of gas right now will create this artificial demand that will make all of this worse."

Federal officials say they have no tolerance for price gouging, but a Virginia gas station was charging a whopping $6.99 a gallon, according to the CBS affiliate there, WTVR-TV.

For some people, the rush to buy fuel was conjuring up memories of stocking up on supplies at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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