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Biden Warns Suppliers About Gasoline Price Gouging, Urges Americans to Avoid Panic Buying

Cars line up on Pine Plaza Drive for gas at the Costco in Apex, N.C., Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

President Biden says Americans on the East Coast should stay strong because help is on the way. That's because Colonial Pipeline says gas is flowing again, but it'll take time for all stations to get back online.

Biden says consumers should avoid panic buying because that only slows things down. The restoration process, he says, isn't like flipping a switch and he named several ways his administration is trying to speed the process along.

"I know seeing lines at the pump or gas stations with no gas can be extremely stressful, but this is a temporary situation," Biden said.

During his remarks Thursday, the President did what he could to urge calm. Tensions hit a boiling point in North Carolina Wednesday when a fight between a man and a woman broke out at the pump.

"It's literally survival of the fittest right now," one motorist said.  

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The President reassured Americans that help is on the way.

"This morning Colonial Pipeline reported that fuel is beginning to flow to a majority of the markets they service, and they should be reaching full operating capacity as we speak," he said.

Biden named several steps his administration is taking to speed the process along like lifting hour and weight restrictions for tanker trucks carrying gas, relaxing fuel standards in several states to allow suppliers more flexibility, and relaxing rules for pipeline operators so emergency personnel can get fuel flowing manually where possible.

"The extraordinary measures the administration has taken, we estimate, sent enough gas to stations to fill the tanks of over 5 million vehicles in the last few days," Biden said.

The President issued this warning to fuel suppliers about price gouging.

"Do not, I repeat, do not try to take advantage of consumers during this time," he said.  

On the preventive side, the President signed an emergency executive order Wednesday to improve cybersecurity by calling for federal agencies to work more closely with the private sector.  As for the Colonial hack, Biden says although Russia is not responsible, he has an expectation of the country's leadership because that's where the hackers dwell.

"We have been in direct communication with Russia about the imperative for responsible countries to take decisive action against these ransomware networks," Biden said.

The President would not comment on questions about Colonial paying any ransom to the hackers. He did, however, use the opportunity to push his American Jobs Plan calling it a prime example of why the nation's infrastructure needs to be hardened.  Biden also urged the Senate to quickly confirm his cybersecurity nominees.

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