Last weekend, a criminal gang of hackers used ransomware to take control of a major fuel pipeline that services a substantial portion of the Southeast United States, causing significant shortages and outages and long lines at thousands of gas stations across several states.
The northern portion of Florida was negatively impacted by the disruption of the Colonial pipeline, and once it became clear that it would not soon be fully operational, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency, WFLA reported.
State of emergency declared
In a press conference Tuesday, Gov. DeSantis told reporters that his state was closely monitoring the situation. “I think this is something that demands really serious federal attention,” he said. “My fear is you have these gas shortages; it’s going to cause a lot of problems for people.”
With regard to the governor’s executive order, it was noted that the cyberattack that disabled the pipeline posed a “significant and immediate threat” to the delivery of fuel into the state of Florida and the disruption constituted a “severe threat” to the state that necessitated “immediate measures” to address and mitigate the situation.
Due to those concerns, a state of emergency was formally declared, which involved empowering the state’s emergency management officials, the reallocation of resources as necessary, and even the activation of the Florida National Guard.
Further, the order allowed for certain applicable state regulations to be temporarily suspended or waived, particularly within Florida’s Department of Transportation and Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Specifically, the rules and regulations set aside due to the emergency involved licensing and registration requirements as well as weight and size restrictions on commercial delivery vehicles, with the goal being to facilitate the prompt delivery, by truck, of fuel to the impacted areas.
A “serious attack”
During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, DeSantis said the pipeline hack was a “very serious attack on critical infrastructure and our country.”
“This pipeline actually doesn’t touch Florida but it does feed in to many of our gas stations, so we declared a state of emergency, we’re lifting restrictions to be able to get more fuel into pumps,” he continued.
“But the Biden administration needs to take this seriously,” DeSantis added. “Their initial response of, ‘oh, this is a private pipeline,’ and just shrug your shoulders — this is important infrastructure for our country and it could impact our economy greatly if they don’t respond.”
Thankfully, service was eventually restored to the pipeline later in the week, but it is possible that it could still take an extended amount of time before the entirety of the pipeline is fully operational, and there could be ripple effects of the shutdown that could negatively impact the state in the coming weeks, hence the governor setting an expiration date on the order for 30 days or later.