Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm

White House Daily Press Briefing

May 11, 2021

Thanks, Jen.

The White House and the Department of Energy have been leading an interagency response to the Colonial Pipeline hack.

And fortunately, the interagency response is bringing expertise, resources, and authorities from across the federal government.  

We have been working around-the-clock since Friday night to help Colonial return the pipeline to normal operation as quickly, safely, and securely as possible.  

I would note that last night, one of Colonial’s major lines resumed operation under manual control while existing inventory is available, along with some of the smaller lines that are spurs off of the major lines. They are getting those up and running.

Many of you are aware that Colonial announced yesterday that they fully expect to substantially restore operations by the end of this week. 

Now, I’ve had several conversations with the CEO of Colonial, who has  indicated that by close of business tomorrow, Colonial will be in a position to make the full restart decision.

But even after that decision is made, it will take a few days to ramp up operations. 

This pipeline has never been shut down before. It travels great distances. There is fuel in the pipe, and then there is fuel from the refineries that has to be added.

So it will take a few days to be up and running.

But our interagency effort is going to be on it all the way. And let me tell you what that has looked like so far. 

Starting this weekend, my team began multiple daily calls with Colonial’s senior executives, with Dave Turk leading those. And those calls have enabled us to share information across the federal government to keep us fully in sync with their progress and to let them know what resources we can bring to bear.  

We have spoken today and yesterday with several governors’ offices in the affected areas from the South and the Mid-Atlantic. 

They are understandably concerned with reports of gas stations running out of fuel, and they want this pipeline restarted, as do we all. 

We are going to continue to assess impacts to supply along the East Coast and in particular parts of the Southeast, using information and analysis from the Energy Information Administration, which is part of the interagency combined effort, and other federal partners.  

We are using these conversations and that information to inform the federal decision making with our partners around steps to mitigate supply impacts and disruptions. 

So on Sunday afternoon, some of you are aware that the Department of Transportation issued a issued an “hours of service” waiver—which provides greater flexibility to drivers transporting gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel across 17 states as well as the District of Columbia.  

DOT also moved to temporarily relax some of its workforce requirements and monitoring, so that we can make sure that we have the personnel online in these places. 

This morning, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a waiver on the blend of fuels in the affected states, allowing us to use noncompliant fuel and boost available supply where it’s needed.

Further, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Rail Administration is working to enlist rail operators in an effort to transport fuel from ports inland—to and from.  

And I spoke as well with Chairman Glick of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—FERC—this morning. FERC is positioned to issue orders quickly to direct the pipeline to prioritize fuel to the areas that are most in need once the pipeline is up and running.  

In short, we are looking at every option we have across the federal government and all of the agencies.   

And in the meantime, I do want to say this: we expect that gas station owners are, and should, act responsibly. 

We will have no tolerance for price gouging. Federal and state officials will be investigating those actions, and we urge consumers to report any price gouging to their state attorneys general. 

Still, I want to be clear that these states who are impacted—even with the turning on of the pipeline system—they still may feel a supply crunch as Colonial fully resumes. 

But the American people can rest assured that this Administration is working with the company get it resumed as soon as possible.  

Let me emphasize that much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, 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.

At the same time, this certainly is a reminder that we need to take a hard look at how we need to harden our necessary infrastructure, and that includes defending against cyber threats.  

And as Anne Neuberger—who was here yesterday—told you, this Administration is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to enhancing our cyber defenses. 

And Secretary Mayorkas is here to tell us a bit about what he is doing on that front.