On Wednesday the White House struggled to respond to the gas shortage on the East Coast of the United States, five days after the Colonial pipeline was shut down by ransomware cyberattack.
Officials of Joe Biden’s cabinet failed to answer a simple question when asked when the shortage would end, instead deferring to Colonial, the private company in charge of the pipeline.
“I’ll defer to announcements from the company on their process,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at the White House daily press briefing.
Buttigieg declined to confirm that the pipeline would be restored at the end of the week, after Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said so on Tuesday.
“I would emphasize that there is a lot in getting a pipeline up and running again,” he said.
The White House sent Buttigieg and EPA Administrator Michael Regan to the press briefing to head off the crisis.
The two government officials only listed minor shuffling of government regulations to help relieve the crisis.
When asked what his message was to Americans suffering gas shortages, Buttigieg replied, “My message is that we understand these concerns.”
Buttigieg also urged Americas not to hoard gasoline.
“This is a time to be sensible and to be safe,” he said, adding, “Hoarding does not make things better, and under no circumstances should gasoline be put into anything but a vehicle directly or an approved container.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not say whether President Joe Biden had spoken to governors about the crisis but said Energy Secretary Granholm held a conference call with the governors of each affected state.
Regan said the EPA would waive some fuel regulations, allowing more gasoline to be allocated to more affected areas, but admitted it was not enough.
“While the waiver alone will not resolve the supply situation, it will help alleviate supply shortages,” he said.