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Fuel emergency declared; Gov. urged to suspend gas tax

Gov. Ralph Northam today declared a state of emergency following the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, the primary source of gasoline for the east coast.

Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Seventy-Eight declaring a state of emergency in Virginia to address gasoline supply disruptions throughout the Commonwealth. On May 7, 2021, the Colonial Pipeline system, which is the primary fuel source for many Virginia retailers, reported a ransomware cyberattack that resulted in a temporary shutdown.

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a temporary fuel transportation waiver to increase the supply of gasoline, the Governor’s emergency declaration allows state agencies to issue their own waivers as required by the state. Executive Order Seventy-Eight also provides increased flexibility and funding for state and local governments to ensure adequate fuel supply.

“This emergency declaration will help the Commonwealth prepare for any potential supply shortages and ensure Virginia motorists have access to fuel as we respond to this evolving situation,” said Governor Northam.

Earlier today, EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued an emergency fuel waiver to help alleviate fuel shortages in Virginia and other states whose supply of reformulated gasoline has been impacted by the pipeline shutdown. This waiver will continue through May 18, 2021.

The pipeline is expected to be back online in a matter of days. Republican Attorney General Nominee Del. Jason Miyares and House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert issued the following statement:

“There are still far too many families struggling to make ends meet, and too many small businesses barely keeping the doors open right now. The last thing they need is a spike in the price of gas at the pump. While there’s little we can do from Richmond to fix pipeline software, we can reduce the burden of government on people until the situation is resolved.

“Today, we’re calling on Governor Northam to use his authority to suspend the collection of motor fuel taxes in Virginia until the Colonial Pipeline is up and running again, and the associated price spikes have worked their way out of the market.”

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