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Gas prices hit $3 a gallon for first time in nearly seven years amid Colonial Pipeline saga

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(NEW YORK) — As the nation grapples with an unprecedented cybersecurity attack on a major East Coast fuel pipeline, the national gas price average hit $3 a gallon for the first time in seven years.

The national average price of regular gasoline is just slightly over $3 a gallon on Wednesday, according to data from the American Automobile Association. The last time average prices were at these levels was in November 2014.

Colonial Pipeline, which transports approximately 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, said Saturday it was the victim of a cyberattack involving ransomware, and had temporarily halted all pipeline operations as a result. Pipeline operators have said they hope to “substantially” restore operations by the end of the week.

Four states in the Southeast — Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia — have declared a state of emergency related to the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

Some analysts have attributed the price hikes and fuel shortages at some gas stations in the region in part to panic-buying. Fuel-price tracker GasBuddy reported Tuesday that demand had jumped 14.3% week-over-week.

As of Wednesday, some 28% of gas stations in North Carolina have fuel outages, according to GasBuddy data, marking the highest of any state. This is followed by approximately 17% of gas stations in Georgia and Virginia.

Energy Sec. Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday urged calm, saying there should be no cause for “hoarding gasoline.”

“Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic,” Granholm told reporters, “there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline, especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend.”

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