State providing support of consumers as fuel pipeline shutdown continues

Gov. Brian Kemp has suspended the state's gas tax after a cyberattack on a major U.S. fuel pipeline caused price spikes throughout the state.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of signing the state's 2022 budget, the governor said that he was temporarily suspending collecting state tax and diesel and motor fuel through Saturday night.

"We are hopeful that this issue is short-lived and I'm happy to provide some relief for Georgians who are gonna see higher prices this week," Kemp said.

SEE MORE: Georgia gas stations assess fuel supply after pipeline shutdown

Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, halted operations last week after revealing a ransomware attack that it said had affected some of its systems.

U.S. officials have stressed that the fuel supply had so far not experienced widespread disruption and the company is working toward resuming service by the weekend. Still, panic from consumers have led to shortages and increased prices in some areas.

"There is no need to fill up every tank you have or hoard gasoline," Kemp said. "Use good common sense."

RELATED: Ransomware attack on major US pipeline linked to criminal gang known as DarkSide

The governor's executive order also increases the weight limits on trucks transporting fuel.

Kemp also issued a warning to anyone "price gouging" during the shutdown, saying "anyone taking advantage of the disruption will not be tolerated."

The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline has jumped 6 cents over the past two weeks, to $3.02 per gallon, which is $1.05 higher than a year ago. The year-ago numbers are skewed somewhat because the nation was going into lockdown due to the pandemic.

The attack on the Colonial Pipeline could exacerbate the upward pressure on prices if it is unresolved for a period of time.

The Georgia Consumer Affairs Protection Division has set up a hotline if you experience what you believe you've experienced price gouging at the pump.

Violators of Georgia's price gouging statutes may be fined up to $5,000 per violation. Consumers can report suspected price gouging by completing the online complaint form on CPD'S website

Under state law, the governor can declare a state of emergency and prohibit price gouging on necessities like fuel — which he has. 

That means, it is now illegal for any gas stations to raise the price of gas higher than what it was just before the governor declared a state of emergency, unless they raise it because of an increase in the cost to the station.

Georgians can call either 404-651-8600 or toll-free at 1-800-869-1123 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.