Travel Alert: Higher Gasoline Prices Due to Fuel Shortages Scattered Throughout the Southeastern United States Until Further Notice
F uel prices have been spiking in at least five states in the southeastern United States because of sporadic gasoline shortages caused by a leaking main pipeline in Alabama which led to its complete shutdown — resulting in states of emergencies to be declared by the governors of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee due to a significant disruption of shipments of fuel.
Fuel Shortages Scattered Throughout the Southeastern United States
In addition to the aforementioned states, the fuel supplies in South Carolina — typically one of the states with the lowest fuel prices in the United States — and North Carolina have also been affected; so for at least the next couple of weeks, ensure .
Fuel prices have increased by approximately 25 cents in the Atlanta area within the past week as a result; and they may rise further before that main pipeline — which is owned by Colonial Pipeline — is repaired. In addition to the sporadic shortages, part of the significant increase in the price or a gallon of gasoline in such a short period of time has artificially resulted due to a mild panic by motorists of vehicles lined up at fuel stations…
…and that panic has led to the prices at some fuel stations increasing dramatically — and in at least one case, the price of gasoline has literally more than doubled.
Some fuel stations have been suspected of engaging in the practice of price gouging: “It’s price-gouging. Taking advantage of the situation. It’s the only place that’s got (gas) in our area and we’re on empty,” one motorist reportedly said in frustration, according to this article written by Tyisha Fernandes and Steve Gehlbach of WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta. “After several complaints about a station in Dallas charging $4.59 for regular gas, an employee says the owner dropped the prices back down.”
With a population of fewer than 25,000 people, Dallas is a small city which serves as the county seat in Paulding County in the state of Georgia; was established in 1854; and is located slightly greater than 30 miles northwest of Atlanta.
While the current state of emergency in Georgia allows for the temporary suspension of limits on the hours drivers of fuel trucks are permitted to work so that the shortage of fuel is mitigated as much as possible, there is technically no law against price gouging — meaning that the significant price increases at some fuel stations in Georgia may be considered morally reprehensible but are not illegal, strictly speaking — although that could change. In contrast, a law against price gouging is currently in effect in the state of North Carolina.
Despite that as much as 336,000 gallons of gasoline may have already leaked from the pipeline, the mild panic demonstrated by some motorists is completely unnecessary and only exacerbating the fuel shortage problem. A second pipeline — also owned by Colonial Pipeline which is ordinarily used for other fuels such as diesel — is currently being used temporarily to transport gasoline; so do not be surprised to see the price of diesel and other fuels also rise significantly over the next couple of weeks.
Although initial reports cited that the main pipeline will be repaired within the next week or so, construction of a temporary pipeline which will bypass the leaking section of the main gasoline pipeline has reportedly commenced — but there is no confirmation as to is when the leak was known to have first occurred; nor an official definitive timeline given as to when supplies of gasoline will once again be replenished and back to normal.
Until then — if you are traveling to the southeastern United States and plan on renting a car which uses gasoline; or if you are driving your own vehicle — over the next couple of weeks, expect the worst: be certain that you are not being subjected to artificially inflated pricing of gasoline by either the rental car company or any fuel station. Keep yourself updated with Internet web sites such as GasBuddy to check on the latest price of a gallon of gasoline in the area in which you plan to drive.
Also, establish that you are more prepared than usual and have enough gasoline in your fuel tank to get you to where you need to go, as some fuel stations may be closed or out of gasoline.
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.