- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2021

President Biden continues to be “regularly briefed” on the Colonial Pipeline hack and shutdown and directed the federal government to address shortages where they occur, according to the White House.

Press secretary Jen Psaki late Monday said the administration is “continually assessing the impact of this ongoing incident on fuel supply for the East Coast.”

“We are monitoring supply shortages in parts of the Southeast and are evaluating every action the administration can take to mitigate the impact as much as possible,” she said.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan waived vapor-pressure rules for fuel sold in D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to bolster the supply of gasoline through May 18.

“As a result of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, Administrator Regan determined that extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances exist and has granted a temporary waiver to help ensure that an adequate supply of gasoline is available in the affected areas until normal supply to the region can be restored,” the agency said.

The FBI pinned the pipeline incident — a so-called “ransomware” attack in which key data is locked or stolen and held for ransom — on the mysterious hacker group DarkSide, believed to be headquartered in eastern Europe, possibly Russia. White House officials were quick to stress that they believe the Colonial Pipeline was targeted by a criminal enterprise, not a government.

The shutdown is prompting fears of rising gas prices.

The American Automobile Association on Monday said national gas prices jumped 6 cents over the past week, to $2.96. If prices rise 3 more cents it would be the highest national average since November 2014.

AAA forecasts the pipeline shutdown will exacerbate the situation.

“This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally. Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the East Coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases, as early as this week,” AAA spokeswoman Jeanette McGee said. “These states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week.”

• Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.

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