National gas average hits $3 a gallon, first time since 2014

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — The national average of a gallon of regular unleaded gas has ticked past $3.00 a gallon, the first time in almost seven years.

The last time prices were that level was in November 2014, confirms the American Automobile Association.

Prices have been climbing in recent months after prices went below $2 a gallon in some areas in the country during the COVID-19 lockdown, which forced motorists to work from home and travel only for essentials.  

However, the recent cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, which transports approximately 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, has caused pipeline operations to cease — prompting gas shortages, panic buying and price hikes.

Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia have declared a state of emergency because of the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack — with gas stations running out of fuel for panicked motorists.

In North Carolina, 65 percent of gas stations report being out of fuel — the highest of any state — while Virginia says 44 percent of their gas stations are empty, according to data from Gas Buddy.  South Carolina and Georgia say 43 percent of their stations are out of fuel.

GasBuddy estimates prices for a gallon of gas rose 14.3 percent week-over-week because of demand.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm cautioned motorists against panic buying, comparing reactions over the shutdown to how toilet paper became a hot item during the pandemic.

“Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic,” Granholm told reporters on Tuesday, “there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline, especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend.”

Pipeline operators announced intent to “substantially” restore operations by the end of the week.

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