ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Tuesday that suspends the state’s gas tax as Georgians may face increased fuel prices amid the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.
The order runs through Saturday night and aims to combat hiked fuel prices since the Alpharetta-based company was hit with a cyberattack that jeopardizes gas supplies up and down the East Coast.
“Extensive media led to a run on the gas pumps, and a lot of people buying gas out of abundance of caution, which has led to increased prices and some shortages around the state,” Kemp said.
Kemp told Georgians he is hopeful the situation is “short-lived.” The order also increases weight limits for trucks carrying fuel, the Republican governor outlined.
His executive order pairs with measures taken at the federal level. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Sunday that it is loosening hours or service requirements for certain fuel haulers in an effort to circumvent disruption in the gas supply.
The new hours apply to drivers carrying gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to 18 states including Georgia and all of its bordering states.
Kemp warned Georgians against panic in buying gas for their cars and reiterated that the Colonial Pipeline has indicated it is a temporary situation.
"I want to encourage people that there is no need to fill up every tank that you have or hoard gasoline,” he said. "The measures I've taken today, I'm hopeful that we can get more supply to stations to get through this week and weekend and we hope that Colonial will return to normal. So just don't do things you don't need to do — do what you need to — and just use good common sense.”
The American Automobile Association (AAA) said Tuesday the national gas price average has jumped six cents to $2.96 and said it expects prices to climb higher as the week goes on.
Colonial Pipeline delivers 45% of all fuel to the East Coast, according to AAA, and has completely shut down its pipeline that runs from Texas to New York Harbor as a result of the cyberattack.
“This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally. Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the East Coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases, as early as this week,” said Jeanette McGee, spokeswoman for AAA. “These states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week.”
If prices continue to rise, three cents more will set a new record high since November 2014.
"I'm happy to provide some relief to Georgians who are going to see higher prices this week,” Kemp said Tuesday. “But it won't be because of paying taxes on that fuel or gasoline.”
Riley Bunch covers the Georgia statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites.