Governors declare state of emergency as gas stations in the Southeast run out of gas after pipeline shutdown

Americans were already getting squeezed by rising gas prices when a fuel shortage swept across the southeastern United States this week, leaving motorists backed up in long lines.

The chaotic scenes are evoking comparisons to the Jimmy Carter era, as governors in the region declare states of emergency to keep prices in check, the New York Post reported.

North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and Georgia have all issued executive orders to prevent price gouging after a cyberattack disrupted the Colonial Pipeline, a critical pipeline spanning from Texas to New Jersey that provides the east coast with half its oil.

States declare state of emergency

As of Wednesday morning, nearly 25% of gas stations in North Carolina were empty, according to Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy. In Georgia and Virginia, 15% of stations had no gas.

The shortages are hitting some major cities like Atlanta and Charlotte hard, with 60% and 71% of stations out of gas in both cities, respectively.

As motorists scramble to gas up, governors like North Carolina’s Roy Cooper (D) have declared an emergency. “Today’s emergency declaration will help North Carolina prepare for any potential motor vehicle fuel supply interruptions across the state and ensure motorists are able to have access to fuel,” he said.

North Carolina and other states have activated price gouging laws, and in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) suspended the gas tax.

White House urges calm

As Colonial promises to get back online by the weekend, the White House is denying that there is a fuel shortage, calling it a “supply crunch” instead.

“It’s not that we have a gasoline shortage, it’s that we have this supply crunch,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said. “Things will be back to normal soon, and we’re asking people not to hoard and know that we are all over this.”

Despite these assurances, the gas crisis comes on top of rising inflation and a dismal jobs report that have prompted comparisons to the economic woes of the Carter administration.

The downturn has put a damper on Biden’s momentum after what had been a bold first 100 days. Biden has pledged to “build back better” with trillions of dollars in spending.

The federal government announced Wednesday that inflation was at its highest level since 2008, and the price of gas is at $3 nationwide for the first time since 2014.

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