Gasoline Supply Remains Strong in Florida, ‘Panic Buying' Not Necessary

"Right now, the panic is the problem," one Miami-Dade Commissioner said.

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While Florida has declared a state of emergency amid concerns of gas shortages and price hikes after a cyberattack on a critical U.S. fuel pipeline, a spokesperson for AAA says the state has enough fuel to avoid panic.

In a news release Wednesday, AAA says the state is not heavily reliant on the Colonial Pipeline.

“It’s likely that motorists are seeing reports about supply issues in other states - due to the pipeline - and are racing out to top off their tanks,” said spokesman Mark Jenkins. “The problem is that surge in demand is what actually creates the supply issue, since gas stations can only hold so much fuel at a given time.”

Around 90% of Florida’s gasoline comes through ports, including both PortMiami and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, on cargo ships.

“This is not a refinery issue. Gasoline is still being made and fuel continues sailing through Florida ports, regardless of whether Colonial Pipeline is operational,” Jenkins continued.

In Miami-Dade County, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and other county officials emphasized in a news conference Wednesday that the county does not get its fuel supply from the Colonial Pipeline.

"Let me be very clear. We do not have an emergency in South Florida as a result of this problem with the pipeline," Levine Cava said. "It does not affect our fuel supply."

Fears of a gas shortage due to the Colonial Pipeline hack have even reached South Florida - but officials are urging drivers not to worry and panic buy. NBC 6's Willard Shepard reports

"My message to the community is stay calm do not rush out to the gas stations to buy gas," Levine Cava said. "Only if you rush and hoard, will we have a problem."

Gas stations in South Florida are seeing brisk business as some drivers rushed to fill up.

NBC 6 cameras captured long lines at a Walmart service station in Pembroke Pines Wednesday morning. The service station had to shut down temporarily after running out of gas.

"I will just say this: Look, let's just use a little bit of common sense. We've seen the pictures and videos of people putting fuel in garbage bags. First of all, that's dumb," Commissioner Oliver Gilbert said. "It's gonna get you hurt. It's dangerous. Stop doing that."

"Right now, the panic is the problem," Gilbert said.

The executive order signed by DeSantis activates the Florida National Guard, as need, and directs state emergency management officials to work with federal and local officials.

"This is a critical infrastructure for our country that was attacked. It can interrupt people's daily lives and our economy," DeSantis said in a news conference Wednesday in Tarpon Springs. "So we really want to see see some good action there. And we'll continue to be standing by to respond to anything that we can do."

The governor echoed that gas shortages have been compounded by panic buying.

"I think what we would just say is, if you need gas, get it, but you don't need to be hoarding it right now, that's going to make it worse," DeSantis said.

The Colonial Pipeline shut down Friday after a ransomware attack by a gang of criminal hackers that calls itself DarkSide. The 5,500-mile pipeline runs from Houston to Linden, New Jersey, and delivers about 45% of the fuel used along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline resumed operations Wednesday, but it will take several days for deliveries to return to normal, the company said.

Port Everglades, however, reassured residents of South Florida on Wednesday that the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline would not impact their fuel supply.

Nikki Fried, Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said in a statement Monday that she was aware of the potential disruption in fuel supply but urged Floridians to not panic buy, hoard, or wait in long lines for gas.

The average gasoline prices in the U.S. jumped six cents Tuesday and may continue to rise as states bear the ripple effects of the cyberattack. In Florida, gas is up four cents from last week and $1.10 from the same time last year, according to AAA data.

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