RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As of 6pm on Wednesday, GasBuddy reported that more than half of Virginia’s gas stations had shut down their pumps.
That’s the second highest rate on the U.S. East Coast and more than triple the rate reported by the website on Wednesday morning.
The shortage is being caused by a cyber attack targeting the Colonial Pipeline. The system is a primary fuel source for many of Virginia’s retailers and accounts for nearly half of the total supply on the east coast.
In addition to federal waivers, a State of Emergency declaration from Gov. Ralph Northam is increasing funding and flexibility to fill the void.
“This emergency declaration will help the Commonwealth prepare for any potential supply shortages and ensure Virginia motorists have access to fuel as we respond to this evolving situation,” Northam said in his announcement on Tuesday.
Dale Bennett, president of the Virginia Trucking Association, explained loosened regulations are allowing tanker drivers to work longer hours and carry more weight than would otherwise be allowed. Bennett assured fuel is still circulating–it’s just taking longer than usual.
“The trucking industry has been stepping up ever since the pipeline shut down,” Bennett said. “Don’t panic. Don’t hoard. That’s just going to make the situation worse. The supply is there. We’ll get it to you and we’re working hard with everyone.”
Meanwhile, AAA says people have flocked to stations across the state, resulting in longer lines, higher prices and gas shortages. As of Wednesday, the national average for gas was $3. It is $2.85 in Virginia.
Attorney General Mark Herring is trying to prevent price gouging at the pump. He said the State of Emergency triggered Virginia’s consumer protections against exorbitant price hikes. To self report, Herring said people should submit all relevant documentation to his office or call the state’s hotline.
“My office will be aggressive in making sure that our laws are enforced and that Virginians don’t need to worry about this,” Herring said.
As of 5pm on Wednesday, the Colonial Pipeline had restored its operations but the company cautioned it could be several days before things return to normal.