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Panic buying shuts down U.S. gas stations, Transportation Secretary urged people to remain calm

Christian Fernsby |
Colonial Pipeline has warned that it will take several days before supplies return to normal.

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Topics: U.S.   

Faced with a growing shortage, late yesterday the White House announced that it had waived the Jones Act which blocks the use of non-U.S.-flagged vessels, which are cheaper and more plentiful, to transport fuel.

It will be "temporary and targeted" to the company, Biden administration spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

"This waiver will enable the transport of additional gas and jet fuel between the Gulf Coast and East Coast ports to ease supply constraints," she said.

The Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have also eased regulations on transporting fuel and temporarily waived clean air rules throughout the affected states to try to ease the supply crunch.

In Florida, 73% of stations in the Pensacola area were out of fuel, according to gas price tracking site GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan.

In North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham area, seven out of 10 stations ran out of gas, as did six in 10 around Georgia's capital, Atlanta.

US average gasoline prices topped $3 (€2.50) a gallon for the first time since November 2014, according to the American Automobile Association (U.S. gas station).

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urged consumers to remain calm.

"We recognise the concern that is out there, and that's why we haven't wasted any time to get into action," he told reporters. "Hoarding does not make things better."

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