By Ryan Amante
On May 12 of this year, the Colonial Pipeline fell victim to what would become the most devastating cyberattack on U.S. infrastructure in history. The ransomware affected the Colonial Pipeline, which stretches from refineries on the Gulf Coast to gas stations located in the Southern and mid-Atlantic regions. The attack halted the daily 2.5 million barrel export, which greatly hindered the availability of gas across most of the eastern seaboard. Although the initial shutdown of gas exports from the pipeline was damaging enough, what was more impactful was the panic of consumers as they raced to fill up their tanks. This mass drive to gas stations left many places completely empty, which only further heightened the panic.
“...prices rose to or above $3 per gallon...”
According to a tracking firm known as GasBuddy, 12,000 gas stations reported being completely out of gas while prices rose to or above $3 per gallon, a national high that has not been experienced in several years. This panic was not exclusive to the areas affected by the pipeline, as gas stations also reported being drained by concerned consumers in central Florida, despite the fact that the pipeline does not run through that area. This consumer panic has been responsible for heightening the effects of the shutdown and spreading more panic to other parts of the country.
Source by Anna Detke
The cyberattack and hoarding around the nation cause gas prices to rise to a record-breaking high.
As mentioned above, the mass drive of consumers to fill up their cars and extra gas cans for their own personal supply helped escalate the attack. Those who jumped to action without learning all the facts further propelled the shortage and took away valuable resources from those who needed it. It seemed as if history was repeating itself, since, in February and March of last year, people began to hoard toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizers, and other essential hygiene products in preparation for a mandated quarantine. What people failed to realize is that most toilet paper is produced in the United States, meaning that there would not be as extreme of an impact on Americans as people believed. However, people still rushed to stores, clearing out their stock and creating a real shortage from their mere suspicions.
“It was just another expense to pay when we are a bit tight on money. Most people didn’t even use gas containers; they used Tupperware, which is extremely dangerous and that’s pretty selfish. A good way to stop hoarders would be to simply create a law against doing it. If there already is one, then enforce it more by installing more cameras and fine them like a traffic ticket,” said freshman Matthew Fredericks.
“A great way to discourage gas hoarding in the future would be to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and increase our usage of renewable resources...”
Despite the fact that the pipeline is not as crucial to the community of New Hyde Park compared to others along the eastern seaboard, an impact of this shortage can still be felt miles from the target of the attack. Gas prices have risen in stations around New Hyde Park as those all across the East Coast struggle to obtain this ever elusive fuel source. Due to the actions of people in a completely different state, families on Long Island are now feeling the strain of the shortage, which impacts their daily lives.
“I’ve certainly noticed the higher prices at the pumps. As such, I have tried to budget my money appropriately, drive less, and walk more. The problem is we, as a people, tend to have very short memories when it comes to these types of things, and when gas prices decrease we tend to fall back into our old ways. A great way to discourage gas hoarding in the future would be to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and increase our usage of renewable resources. If we don't need the gas, we won't hoard the gas,” said social studies teacher Bernard Laugen.
The strain caused by paranoid individuals across the country serves as a reminder to be responsible and mindful of the resources one consumes and how people can work together to preserve and share them.