Editorial: Don't panic over gasoline

Don't panic.

Be calm.

Use common sense.

That is the message from Gov. Brian Kemp and this newspaper in light of the shutdown of a major fuel pipeline following a ransomware attack.

Kemp signed an executive order Tuesday that suspends the state's gas tax through Saturday night as the state's residents may see higher fuel prices because of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. The move is designed to counter any hiked fuel prices because of the cyberattack that is said to jeopardize gas supplies up and down the East Coast. The order also increases weight limits for trucks carrying fuel.

Georgia imposes a gasoline tax of 28.7 cents a gallon and a diesel tax of 32.2 cents a gallon that is collected by distributors and paid to the state.

Kemp said there had been some increased prices already and shortages in the state.

"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."

Kemp noted Colonial Pipeline has indicated this is a temporary situation. Colonial has said "it's likely to restore service on the majority of its pipeline by Friday," The Associated Press reported. "There's no imminent shortfall, and thus no need to panic buy gasoline, said Richard Joswick, head of global oil analytics at S&P Global Platts."

Kemp's message comes from experience. The hoarding of toilet paper and other supplies was seen in the early days of media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic as shoppers emptied the shelves of some stores nationwide in fear of not being able to access such products. With gas such an important commodity, Kemp is warning of the dangers of such an approach.

We commend the governor for his suspension of the state gas tax in the short term, and also for his wise words of caution.

We reiterate. Don't panic, which as one analyst noted can become a "self-fulfilling prophecy." Be calm. Use common sense.

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