Department of Economic Opportunity Director Dane Eagle is running out of gas. Literally.
Speaking Wednesday to reporters, Eagle said that he empathizes with the thousands of Floridians impacted by the long lines circling gas stations around North Florida.
As for Eagle, he has only a quarter tank left.
“Hopefully (that) gets me through the week,” the director quipped.
The run on gas began Monday after a ransomware attack shut down a major fuel pipeline running from Texas, prompting Floridians to flock to their nearest gas station.
In the days since, state leaders including Gov. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried have urged Floridians to pump the brakes on their panic.
They as well as AAA are continuing to stress the shortage is panic-driven. Eagle echoed the warning on Wednesday.
“I think that panic has struck and what we need to do is [encourage] people to use caution,” Eagle said. “It’s not a time to stockpile. Gas will be available but if you fill up now and fill up your tanks in abundance, others won’t have that available.”
Operated by Colonial Pipeline, the pipeline provides nearly 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast. The bulk of Florida’s fuel, however, is received via seaports, meaning the pipeline outage shouldn’t affect Florida’s supply.
But despite reassurances from state leaders, the long lines continued to grow in Florida’s Panhandle.
While Eagle believes the demand on gas will be short-lived, he warned a prolonged demand could spell trouble for all, including the business sector.
“I think that is affecting everybody, regardless of where you are, what you do or what background you come from,” Eagle said. “We need to have reliable transportation.”
The Governor declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, relaxing truck-weight restrictions to get more fuel to stores. In the meantime, DeSantis said unnecessary gas purchases will exacerbate the problem.
“You do see shortages, but also, that’s compounded with some panic buying,” DeSantis said. “Look, if you need gas, get it. But you don’t need to be hoarding it right now. That’s going to make it worse.”
The American Petroleum Institute held a media briefing Wednesday, with experts on the supply chain saying claims of a gasoline “shortage” are a misnomer.
“This is not a gasoline shortage. We have an abundant supply of fuel. American refineries are running, we’re just working through the challenges of getting the fuel to each of the customers and communities served by the Colonial system,” said Susan Grissom, chief industry analyst for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.
Colonial Pipeline said Wednesday evening it had initiated the restart of pipeline operations.
President Joe Biden and the federal government, meanwhile, are working with the company to resume operations.
The hack prompted a national emergency declaration, with states like North Carolina and Florida following suit.
The national order lifts regulations to allow fuel to be transported on alternative routes.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this post. Republished with permission.