VIRGINIA, USA — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order 78 declaring a state of emergency in Virginia to address gasoline supply disruptions throughout the Commonwealth.
Executive Order 78, which was signed on Tuesday, is in place to give fuel transportation waivers and funding for state and local governments to increase the gasoline supply. Back on May 7, 2021, the Colonial Pipeline system, which is the primary fuel source for many Virginia retailers, reported a ransomware cyberattack that resulted in a temporary shutdown.
“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 a release Tuesday afternoon.
While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a temporary fuel transportation waiver to increase the supply of gasoline, Northam's emergency declaration allows state agencies to issue their own waivers as required by the state.
Executive Order 78 also provides increased flexibility and funding for state and local governments to ensure adequate fuel supply.
The Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Texas through Virginia and Maryland to New Jersey, delivers roughly 45% of the fuel consumed on the U.S. East Coast. The ransom attack raised concerns that supplies of gasoline, jet fuel and diesel could be disrupted in parts of the region if the shutdown continues.
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On Monday, the Holtzman Oil Corp. remained worried about the amount of fuel available for stations around the region.
"We’re struggling to find product and we’re just talking to everybody we know about getting product from them," said founder Bill Holtzman. "Our biggest concern is having the product.”
The Holtzman Oil Corp. dates back to 1972 and distributes gas to Exxon, Shell, and Liberty gas stations in parts of Northern Virginia. Holtzman said part of the business involves stopping by fuel terminals in Fairfax and Manassas connected to the Colonial Pipeline.
At the moment, though, officials said there is no fuel shortage.
Colonial is in the process of restarting portions of its network. It said Sunday that its main pipeline remained offline, but that some smaller lines were operational. The company has not said when it would completely restart the pipeline.
The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline has jumped 6 cents over the past two weeks, to $3.02 per gallon, which is $1.05 higher than it was a year ago. Those year-ago numbers are skewed somewhat because the nation was going into lockdown due to the pandemic.