Biden warns gas station owners: 'Do not try to take advantage of consumers' during fuel crunch

President Joe Biden warned gas station owners on May 13 against price gouging and taking advantage of consumers as many areas along the East Coast face shortages in the wake of panic-buying sparked by a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline. By Kate Sullivan, CNN

(CNN) -- President Joe Biden warned gas station owners on Thursday against price gouging and taking advantage of consumers as many areas along the East Coast face shortages in the wake of panic-buying sparked by a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline.

The President said he was going to work with governors in affected states and direct federal agencies to provide assistance to monitor and put an end to price gouging.

"I also want to say something to the gas stations: Do not, I repeat, do not try to take advantage of consumers during this time," Biden said, speaking from the White House.

The President said: "Nobody should be using this situation for financial gain. That's what the hackers are trying to do. That's what they're about. Not us. That's not who we are."

Many Americans began panic-buying and hoarding gasoline in the wake of the ranomsware hack that caused Colonial to shut down its pipeline as a precaution. While the shutdown was not expected to cause any supply issues, the rush on fuel has overwhelmed gas stations in the Southeast and caused a supply crunch.

The Colonial Pipeline, which provides nearly half the gasoline and diesel consumed by the East Coast, launched a restart of its operations on Wednesday evening after being shut down for days following the attack.

Biden said Thursday the pipeline is reaching its full operational capacity but "we'll not feel the effects at the pump immediately."

"This is not like flicking on a light switch. This pipeline is 5,500 miles long. It had never been fully shut down in its entire history," Biden said.

A significant percentage of gas stations in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are without fuel, according to GasBuddy, which tracks fuel demand, prices and outages.

The President also had a message for Americans concerned about fuel shortages.

"Don't panic, number one," Biden said. "I know seeing lines at the pumps, or gas stations with no gas, can be extremely stressful. But this is a temporary situation."

The President added, "Do not get more gas than you need in the next few days. As I said, we expect the situation to begin to improve by the weekend, and into early next week, and gasoline supply is coming back online, and panic buying will only slow the process."

In recent days, Biden administration officials have warned Americans against hoarding and improperly storing gasoline as the panic-buying threatens to exacerbate the supply shock.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm have all pleaded with the American people not to hoard gasoline as the pipeline worked to get back online.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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