After five days that saw Virginia’s gasoline availability plummet, the Colonial Pipeline was fully-operational as of Thursday evening. But the company says not to expect supplies to return to normal immediately.
“Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during this start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal,” states a Colonial Pipeline press release.
“We expect to see a region-by-region return to normalcy beginning this weekend and continuing into next week,” President Joe Biden said in a Thursday press briefing.
The pipeline was shutdown after hackers infiltrated the company’s systems and held their data hostage. The company ended up paying $5 million in cryptocurrency to the hackers, according to Bloomberg. The outage triggered gas shortages in many eastern U.S. states, including Virginia, where 50 percent of gas stations had fuel outages on Thursday evening, according to crowdsourced data from GasBuddy.com. By Friday evening, that number was down to 45 percent.
The outage also triggered policy discussions about pipelines and cybersecurity. Virginia politicians took to television to share their thoughts.
“Gas in the pipeline is starting to flow again. These shortages are being created by this panic buying. And in a few days, we’ll be back to normal. But I also think there is a much bigger issue, and I say this as someone who’s frankly been unsuccessfully saying for years that we need to up our game on cyber protections,” Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) said on CNN on Thursday.
“This has long been an issue of increasing worry,” U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia-07) said on NBC12.
“We cannot allow such destabilizing attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure to become the norm — and we must strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity to prevent future attacks,” Spanberger tweeted.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin blamed Democrats for allowing the shutdown. “When I was co-leading Carlyle, we were really focused on making sure that cyber defense and cyber integrity was at the core of a lot of our business strategy,” Youngkin told Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business.
He said, “It’s amazing to me because the McAuliffe-Northam administrations and all of their left-liberal friends have been so anti-pipeline. And here we have single-source failure in the mid-Atlantic, one pipeline.”
Youngkin said, “All of a sudden we’re saying we don’t like pipelines and this is what it shows.”
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to improve cybersecurity in the government. According to a fact sheet, key pieces of the order include modernizing federal government cyber security standards and improving software supply chain security for software sold to the government. The order also mandates multi-factor authentication which helps prevent passwords from being stolen.
Additionally, the order establishes a Cybersecurity Safety Review Board to review significant cyber security incidents and make recommendations.
On Thursday, Biden said in a press conference, “Last night, I signed an executive order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity. It calls for federal agencies to work more closely with the private sector to share information, strengthen cybersecurity practices, and deploy technologies that increase reliance against cyberattacks.”
He added, “Again, we expect things to return to normal over the next several days. I will be monitoring Colonial’s progress and the federal government’s support every step of the way.”
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