WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden delivered remarks on the Colonial Pipeline incident less than 24 hours after the pipeline restarted operations after it was stalled for days due to a ransomware attack.
The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel that is consumed on the East Coast, was hit Friday with a cyberattack by hackers who lock up computer systems and then demand a ransom to release them. The attack raised concerns, once again, about the vulnerability of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
The pipeline shutdown was an all-hands-on-deck situation for a young presidency that has also had to deal with a pandemic, a recession, an influx of unaccompanied children at the southern border, a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and high-stakes showdowns globally that carry the specter of war.
State and federal officials have been scrambling to find alternate routes to deliver gasoline in the Southeast U.S. after panic-buying contributed to more than 1,000 gas stations running out of fuel. The pipeline runs from the Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan region, but states in the Southeast are more reliant on the pipeline for fuel. Other parts of the country have more sources to tap. For example, a substantial amount of fuel is delivered to states in the Northeast by massive tankers.
While the pipeline has restarted, the administration did warn fuel will not immediately return to normal levels.
“Colonial Pipeline has made substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system and can report that product delivery has commenced in a majority of the markets we service,” Colonial said in a statement Thursday morning. “By mid-day today, we project that each market we service will be receiving product from our system.”
The national average price for a gallon of gasoline ticked above $3 for the first time since 2016 Wednesday, according to the AAA auto club. Prices begin to rise around this time every year and the AAA auto club said Wednesday that the average price hit $3.008 nationally.
The technology firm Gasbuddy.com found that 28% of stations were out of fuel in North Carolina. In Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, more than 16% of stations were without gas.
After the cyberattack and a string of other high-profile ransomware attacks, Biden signed an executive order Wednesday to strengthen the country’s cyber defense practices.
The executive order creates an increased private-public partnership to ensure the U.S. is protected against future attacks, modernizes the cybersecurity practices of the federal government and implements an “energy star” style rating system for software companies.