Before the Colonial Pipeline Company announced on Wednesday that it would resume operations, the Biden administration discussed calling on the US Army for help.
In the immediate aftermath of the ransomware attack and the closure of the largest fuel pipeline in the US, the White House was so concerned about widespread, prolonged gas distribution disruption and shortages that officials asked agencies across the government to try a wider range of options demanded. According to four people familiar with the discussion, mitigate the crisis.
These people said options were likely to be used by the military to assist, including potentially relying on fuel reserves or mobilizing the National Guard. Ultimately, White House officials concluded that they did not need to take such steps for now, instead opting for some less drastic measures and setting a deadline early next week when they consider the crisis Will be resolved to a large extent, people familiar with the discussion said. He said the options presented by the Pentagon could be reconsidered if the crisis persists beyond then or if a new threat arises.
The colonial pipeline shutdown was the result of one of the most disruptive cyber attacks in history, halting fuel distribution along the East Coast and leading to widespread panic and empty pumps.
Speaking about the closure of the colonial pipeline from the White House this week, President Joe Biden warned that it could be several days before gas stations were restored, adding that "it's not like turning on a light switch . " He said that he hopes to improve gas supply in the next few days. "I know it can be extremely stressful to see lines at un-gas pumps or gas stations, but this is a temporary situation."
A senior administration official said that there were discussions about deploying the National Guard, but they were never serious.
But one of the people familiar with the talks at the White House said that if the crisis continued until next week, the army could be called in to help.
Image: Rowing of vehicles to enter petrol station during increased fuel demand in Durham, North Carolina
On May 12, 2021, a motorist gets up from his truck while waiting in a queue of vehicles to enter a petrol station in Durham, North Carolina. Jonathan Drake / Reuters
A Pentagon spokesman said in a statement, "The President has not directed the Department of Defense to help deal with the gas shortage in relation to the colonial pipeline shutdown."
US plans for possible evacuation of Afghan interpreters, says top US general
In response to the rising gasoline shortage, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meierkas approved a temporary waiver of the Jones Act, which lifted a ban that required essential oil to be replaced by the U.S.
"This waiver will help reduce oil supply bottlenecks as a result of interruptions in the operation of the colonial pipeline to transport oil products between the Gulf Coast and East Coast ports. The decision to approve the waiver was made after careful consideration. And Consultation with inter-agency partners in the federal government, ”Meyerkas said in a statement.
The statement said, "Earlier this week, President Biden instructed the entire government's response to reverse the effects of the colonial pipeline shutdown. This limited exemption is part of that effort."
The Colonial Pipeline operates the country's largest fuel pipeline, supplying nearly half of the fuel consumed on the East Coast. The company ceased its operations last Friday, when a Russian criminal element named Darkside infected its financial network with ransomware, forced Colonial out of its system and demanded payment to restore access.
Colonial resumed operations five days later, but disruptions led to the withdrawal of gasoline and a price increase. A US official familiar with the matter told NBC News that Colonial paid about $ 5 million as ransom to cybercriminals.