Fears the shutdown of a major fuel pipeline would cause a gasoline shortage led to some panic buying and prompted US regulators on Tuesday to temporarily suspend clean fuel requirements in three eastern states and the nation's capital.
A ransomware attack Friday on Colonial Pipeline forced the company to shut down its entire network, though industry experts say any shortages will be temporary.
The operator of the largest fuel conduit system in the United States, Colonial Pipeline ships gasoline and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the populous east coast through 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of ducts that serve 50 million consumers.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday announced a one-week suspension of clean air rules in an effort to ease supply issues.
The waiver is meant "to address the fuel supply emergency caused by a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline's computer networks that led to the pipeline's shutdown," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a letter to the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia and the mayor of Washington.
Regan said the EPA and Energy Department "have been actively monitoring the supply of fuel" and found that "the unusual pipeline shutdown has affected gasoline supplies."
Colonial Pipeline said it hoped to have its system back online by the end of the week, but the shutdown raised fears the shortages would cause gasoline prices to spike just ahead of the US Memorial Day holiday, the unofficial kickoff to the summer travel season.