As some gas stations run out of fuel and drivers scramble to fill up their tanks, President Joe Biden tried to calm nerves on Thursday, urging Americans not to panic buy and assuring that there will be a “return to normalcy” starting this weekend.
Colonial Pipeline was the target of a ransomware attack that shut in operations along the Eastern U.S., with Bloomberg News reporting that the company paid $5 million to the Eastern European hackers to begin to restore its operations.
In short remarks at the White House, Biden said, “This morning Colonial reported that fuel is beginning to flow to a majority of markets that they service, and they should be reaching full operational capacity as we speak.”
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“We want to be clear: We will not feel the effects at the pump immediately. This is not like flicking on a light switch. This pipeline is 5,500 miles long. It had never been fully shutdown in its entire history, so fully, and now they have to safely and fully return to normal operations.”
At one point in his remarks, Biden stumbled over the word “hiccup,” and made a joke of it.
He said of the pipeline situation, “It is going to take some time, and there may be some hiccups … like I just had along the way here.”
He added, “We expect to see a region by region return to normalcy beginning this weekend.”
But he also urged people to avoid panic buying, calling it a “temporary situation” and that vehicle owners should not be getting “more gas than you need in the next few days.”
“Panic buying will only slow the process,” Biden said.
He also warned gas stations not to gouge customers.
The situation has drawn news coverage of long gas lines, triggering some criticism on the right that it is reminiscent of the 1970s energy crisis during the administration of President Jimmy Carter.
Biden said that the situation was further evidence of the need to upgrade infrastructure and modernize its security, as his administration pursues a massive proposal, the American Jobs Plan.
Biden said that they do not believe that Russia was behind the attack, but they have strong reason to believe that the hackers are in the country.
He also had no comment on the Bloomberg report of the company paying the ransom.
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