A gas shortage primarily in the Southeast continues on Wednesday impacting major metropolitan areas and small towns alike. As of Wednesday morning, GasBuddy's petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan said 72 percent of gas stations in Raleigh, 71 percent in Charlotte, and 60 percent in Atlanta are out of gas.
The shortage is the result of both a supply crunch and a demand surge originating from the Colonial Pipeline hack that shut down the East Coast's major gasoline source, requiring gasoline to be transported by truck and rail instead in the short term.
News of the pipeline shutting down spurred panic buying, reminiscent of the run on toilet paper a year ago, that has contributed just as much to the shortage as the hack itself. People have been posting photos and videos on social media of panic buyers filling up jerry cans at the pumps and, in some cases, resorting to filling up plastic bags, which is a terrible idea you absolutely should not do under any circumstances.
Some Republicans on the right are already capitalizing on the crisis, blaming President Biden and liberals in general. Naturally, Tucker Carlson led the pack, alleging in a deranged rant that the pipeline shutdown is what the White House wants and part of a massive liberal conspiracy linked to the Green New Deal. Vernon Jones, a former Georgia state representative who’s running against Brian Kemp for governor, posted a video from a pump yesterday (that, ironically, had fuel) blaming Kemp "because he cut and ran on Donald Trump." On Twitter, the hashtag #BidenGasLines gets a tweet or two every minute.
At this point, there doesn't appear to be any factual basis for blaming the Biden administration for the pipeline hack and ensuing panic buying. The federal government has waived a number of regulations to get more fuel on the roads and into gas stations. The most effective measure that could have been—and still could be—enacted would be limiting gas purchases to $20 or less until the pipeline resumes service. But that’s far more easily enacted on the local and state level, meaning everyone mad at Biden should perhaps be demanding better of their state officials instead. Then again, that would assume some semblance of rationality in a crisis that’s been defined by the exact opposite.