US States Declare Emergency Over Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack

The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack is by far the largest cyberattack on the energy system in the US.
Chris Young

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urged US motorists not to hoard gasoline after the Department of Transportation and 17 US states declared an emergency over the shutdown of one of the country's most important pipelines following a ransomware attack on its operator Colonial Pipeline, a report by Reuters explains.

Granholm stated on Tuesday, May 11, that the Colonial Pipeline shutdown has not caused any gasoline shortages and that consumers should report any instance of gasoline price gouging to the authorities.

Though Granhold told reporters at the White House that "things will be back to normal soon," 17 states have declared an emergency over the pipeline, which has been down since Friday, May 7, when hackers conducted a ransomware attack against the Colonial Pipeline operator.

The Colonial Pipeline is a 5,500-mile (8,851-km) pipeline that carries 45 percent of the fuel supplies for the eastern US. Colonial has stated that the pipeline will be up and running again in a few days. In the meantime, Granholm said that gasoline will be transported to affected regions.

17 States and DoT declare emergency

In the Department of Transportation's emergency declaration on May 9, it said its statement "addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products and provides necessary relief."

As per The Independent, 17 states and DC have since declared emergencies over the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. The states are Alabama, Arkansas, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

The national average for gasoline prices has risen to its highest level since 2014 following the pipeline shutdown, according to Bloomberg.

The Department of Transportation issued a temporary hours-of-service exemption for transporting gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel on Sunday, May 9, in order to help operators meet demand.

As energy researcher Amy Myers told Politico, this is "the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure we know of in the United States."

In a brief statement on Monday, the FBI said it "confirms that the Darkside ransomware is responsible for the compromise of the Colonial Pipeline networks,"

There is an increasingly worrying risk of hackers compromising public service systems — as recently evidenced by a hacker attempting to poison a Florida water system earlier this year. To date, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack is by far the largest cyberattack on the energy system in the US.

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