Long lines of drivers waited at gas stations across the South yesterday — except for the stations that had already run out of gas — as the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline caused panic buying and chaos. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the “crunch” in the Southeast will take several days to alleviate and that Pipeline Officials told her they could make a decision on a “full restart” as soon as Wednesday evening. The pipeline will be “substantially” back online by the weekend, Granholm said. The administration has issued dozens of waivers of environmental and labor regulations, including rules requiring cleaner gasoline to be sold in urban areas.
The vulnerability of pipelines to cyberattack is not new nor unexpected — FERC commissioners wrote an op-ed in 2018 about essentially this very scenario. Though this gasoline pipeline disruption has not led to the deadly outcomes of the natural gas system failures that plunged much of Texas into darkness and caused disruption across the Great Plains in February, the current crisis illustrates the chaos that can be caused by failures of fossil fuel infrastructure. Yet, even in the midst of a crisis, Colonial Pipeline didn’t even notify the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity division after the attack and still had not shared important technical information with the agency as of Tuesday, Politico Pro reported.
Despite the disruption and panic, the American Petroleum Institute told reporters Tuesday new cybersecurity mandates suggested by Republican lawmakers and federal energy regulators were premature. (Fuel shortages: Washington Post $, Bloomberg $, E&E $, AP, New York Times $, The Hill, Washington Examiner, The Hill; Security: Earther, The Hill, Grist, Politico Pro $, Utility Dive, Axios, Washington Post $, The Hill; Administration response: Politico, The Hill, Politico, The Hill, Politico Pro $, Politico Pro $; API response: Washington Examiner)