COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD/AP) – South Carolina’s top prosecutor has enacted a measure criminalizing price gouging following the shutdown of a pipeline that carries fuel to much of the state.
Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Tuesday he had declared an “abnormal disruption” in the fuel market following the hacking of the Colonial Pipeline.
In such a circumstance, anyone found to be renting or selling a commodity at “an unconscionable price” could be charged with price gouging. The crime carries a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail.
The Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the Northeast. It was hit by what Colonial called a ransomware attack.
Governor Henry McMaster says South Carolinians do not need to rush to the gas station following a cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline.
The pipeline, which carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the Northeast, was shutdown following a ransomware attack last week.
Many gas stations across the southeast have seen long lines at the pump as people rush to fill up their tanks.
Gov. McMaster’s office says it has been in constant contact with the Office of Regulatory Staff regarding the temporary shutdown. “We stand ready to take any additional action that may be necessary,” Gov. McMaster said in a tweet on Tuesday.
He said because South Carolina is already under a state of emergency due to the pandemic, transportation waivers and price gouging laws are in effect to facilitate fuel delivery and protect consumers.
“There is no need to rush to top off your gas tanks or hoard gas – the pipeline is expected to resume operations by the end of the week,” said Gov. McMaster.
According to the Associated Press, someone close to the investigation into the attack identified the ransomware gang responsible as DarkSide.
DarkSide is among ransomware gangs that have “professionalized” a criminal industry that has cost Western nations tens of billions of dollars in losses in the past three years, according to AP.
President Joe Biden’s administration said its an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to restore operations and avoid disruptions in gasoline supply.
The Department of Transportation issued a regional emergency declaration Sunday, relaxing hours-of-service regulations for drivers carrying gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
Authorities expect to have services ‘mostly restored’ by the end of the week.
Portions of this story are from the Associated Press.