Tennessee Drivers 'Panic Buying' Gas, Spurs Shortage At Some Stations

By Sarah Tate

May 12, 2021

Days after the Colonial Pipeline Company halted its operations, putting a pause in the gasoline that supplies about 45% of the fuel along the East Coast, Tennessee is facing a shortage of fuel at gas stations around the state. However, experts say the shortage is mainly caused by consumers "panic buying" and hoarding fuel, FOX 17 reports.

"Limited availability of gasoline supply in some areas of the state is not out of the question for this week — but it's important to remember that these outages are only temporary," said Megan Cooper, Tennessee Public & Government Relations Consultant with AAA. "There is an ample supply of gasoline in the United States, it's just a matter of getting that gasoline where it needs to be in the market."

Just like when people flock to the store to buy bread and milk before a storm, or when there was a shortage of toilet paper and cleaning supplies at the start of the pandemic, drivers across the state have attempted to fuel their vehicles ahead of any price increase or shortage. The problem, however, is this creates a shortage in the short term.

Patrick De Haan, an analyst for GasBuddy, reported the percentage of gas stations without gasoline in several southeastern and East Coast states as of 10 a.m. Wednesday (May 12). Of the 10 states listed, Tennessee ranks near the bottom of the list, with about 3.6% of stations reporting no gasoline. North Carolina leads the list, with nearly 30% of stations out of fuel.

"We have also heard similar reports of panic buying starting to happen in states along the Colonial pipeline system," Cooper said of the shortage in Tennessee. "Right now the biggest message we want to send is urging people to avoid panic-buying gasoline. This only worsens the situation for everyone."

GasBuddy has an online gasoline availability tracker, found here, so drivers can see which stations in their area have fuel or are experiencing a shortage.

As of Wednesday, the pipeline remained offline; it is unclear when it will resume operations, but the company announced Monday that it hoped to restore operations by the end of the week.

Photo: Getty Images

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