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Governor Kemp suspends Georgia fuel tax following cyberattack on pipeline

Gas stations running low after cyberattack
Gas stations running low after cyberattack 02:11

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed an executive order temporarily suspending state taxes on fuel in response to rising prices after a cyberattack shut down the Colonial Pipeline.

The 5,500 mile pipeline delivers roughly 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast. The shutdown sparked gas shortages Monday, leaving motorists to wait in long lines at gas stations. 

Kemp also announced that Georgia is increasing weight limits for trucks transporting fuel to stations, in part to tamp down on price gouging. 

"We expect these measures to be temporary as Colonial plans to be fully up and running later this week," Kemp said in a statement Tuesday.

He also discouraged motorists from hoarding gas. 

"There is no need to rush to the gas station to fill up every tank you have and hoard gas," Kemp said. "With the measures we have taken today, I am hopeful we can get more supply to stations and get through to this weekend when we hope Colonial will return to normal."

According to GasBuddy, some 5% of the more than 6,300 filling stations in Georgia were without gasoline as of early afternoon on Tuesday. Other southeastern states are also seeing shortages, with roughly 7% of service stations in North Carolina and Virginia out of gas. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper on Monday declared a state of emergency in the state and temporarily suspended fuel regulations to ensure adequate fuel supplies.

"Today's emergency declaration will help North Carolina prepare for any potential motor vehicle fuel supply interruptions across the state and ensure motorists are able to have access to fuel," Cooper said.

Gas shortages after cyberattack on pipeline 03:10

In the meantime, Kemp expects the two measures will alleviate cost burdens. U.S. gasoline prices could soon approach $3 a gallon depending on how long the pipeline remains out of commission after a ransomware attack on Colonial's IT systems halted all pipeline operations Friday.

"AAA forecasts gas prices to climb this week in reaction to the shutdown," the auto club said on Monday. Prices have been edging up before the cyberattack on growing consumer demand and resurgent economic growth. Over the last week, the national average for a regular gallon of gas has risen 6 cents to $2.96, according to AAA. Should that trend continue, an increase of 3 more cents would bring the average to $2.99, making for the priciest gas since November 2014, it said.

The FBI says a group of Russian cybercriminals who call themselves DarkSide is behind the Colonial Pipeline disruption.

— Kate Gibson contributed to this report.

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