Panic buying will only extend the shortages, President Biden warned during a Thursday update on the fuel situation. The restart is “not like flicking on a light switch,” Biden said, adding that he expects a “region-by-region return to normalcy beginning this weekend and continuing into next week.”
Despite warnings from government officials and experts, panicked drivers have drained more than 17,000 stations throughout the Southeast, including many that would not otherwise have been affected by the pipeline hack. The heightened demand also pushed the national average for a gallon of gas to $3.02, its highest level since 2014 according to AAA.
Some signs of improvement surfaced overnight in Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh, which were among the hardest-hit metro areas. But as of Thursday morning, more than 70 percent of the stations in North Carolina remained dry, and states as far apart as Delaware and Kentucky were feeling the artificial crunch, according to Patrick De Haan, oil analyst at GasBuddy. The panic has driven U.S. gas demand up more than 11 percent so far this week, De Haan tweeted.
On Wednesday, Biden signed an executive order aimed at shoring up the federal government’s digital defenses to guard against future attacks like the one that tied up Colonial Pipeline.