Nearly 70% of gas stations in North Carolina’s largest metropolitan regions have run out of fuel as the gasoline shortage caused by the Colonial Pipeline hack continues to roil the East Coast.
Data compiled by GasBuddy, a Boston-based technology company that analyzes real-time fuel prices across the country, found that nearly 30% of North Carolina gas stations had gone dry by Tuesday.
The problem was exacerbated in the station’s major metropolitan regions, including Charlotte, Raleigh and Asheville. In the Charlotte area, for example, more than 70% of gas stations had run out of gas or only had limited options available. Meanwhile, in the Asheville region, the figure stood at 78%.
North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper issued a state of emergency earlier this week to address the crisis. Cooper blamed the shortage in part on fear, arguing that people were rushing to fill their gas tanks even if they didn’t need it.
“Please do not buy gasoline unless it is low and report any case of price increases,” said the governor. “We will continue our efforts to help ensure that there is an adequate supply of fuel.”
Although North Carolina has been the hardest hit, it is by no means the only state affected. In South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, nearly 20% of all gas stations have run out of gas.
The crisis is the result of a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the country’s largest oil pipeline refinery system, which has crippled the company’s ability to deliver gasoline and other forms of energy.
The impact has been disproportionately felt in the mid-Atlantic and the south. When in operation, Colonial Pipeline transports more than three billion barrels of fuel a day between the Gulf Coast and the Port of New York. It is responsible for delivering 45% of all fuel consumed on the east coast.
Colonial Pipeline’s inability to transport gasoline, combined with increased demand caused by fear, has led to long lines at the gas station. In some states, like Virginia and Georgia, wait times exceed more than an hour.
The Biden administration and local governments have responded to the crisis by mobilizing resources to expand the supply of available gasoline.
The Environmental Protection Agency, in particular, has waived certain regulations, including those on vapor pressure, to bolster gasoline supplies in Pennsylvania and the DC metropolitan region.
Similarly, the Department of Transportation has authorized the worst affected states to transport “overweight loads” of gasoline to service stations.
We’re taking no chances, ”said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We are doing everything possible in the meantime to be able to transport fuel to the places that need it.”
Experts, however, are not convinced that the crisis will be resolved until Colonial Pipeline is back in full operation. Some, in particular, point out that the Southeast has no other alternatives for transportation of fuel outside of the Colonial Pipeline system.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm hinted at it Tuesday during a press conference at the White House.
“The crisis is in the areas that are affected by the gas pipeline, the main routes of the gas pipeline,” Granholm said. “So that’s really the southeast … and due to the fact that there isn’t much other offering … that’s where we’re going to see the crisis.”