Associations Advise Public After Gas Shortages Arise

With an Alabama pipeline rupture causing gas shortages and other negative effects on the gasoline industry throughout the southern U.S., associations are offering tips and advice to people affected at the pump.

Yes, there is a gas shortage in the South right now. No, you shouldn’t top off your gas tank when it’s nearly full. Yes, this is temporary.

The recent reports of a pipeline break in Alabama are having a ripple effect all over the southern U.S., and the subsequent questions have prompted associations to provide guidance. For example:

Don’t change your gas-buying habits: Gary Harris, executive director of the North Carolina Petroleum & Convenience Marketers Association, says that although there’s a serious problem that is affecting the gasoline pipeline, it’s being made worse by people who are responding by changing their gas-buying habits. In comments to the Fayetteville Observer, Harris emphasized that “topping off” one’s tank simply limits the supply going to everyone else. “One thing that will exacerbate the problem is panic buying and hoarding,” Harris told the newspaper. He added that this line of thought would remain in place even if the gas supply was normal. “Even if all the pipelines were working, if everyone tried to get gas, it would cause the system to go down,” he said.

When will the shortages stop? In Tennessee, where occasional gas shortages have been reported, the Tennessee Fuel and Convenience Store Association is keeping the public abreast of how fuel shippers are responding to the situation. “A station that you see out of gas at one time could have gas in the next hour. Consumers will continue to see intermittent outages as the industry works hard to get fuel back at the pumps,” said the association’s executive director, Emily LeRoy, in comments to WBIR. As reported by The Tennessean, LeRoy credited Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for expanding the hours of service that fuel service firms could ship.

What about gas prices? Gas prices have been pretty low lately, but the pipeline leak has caused those prices to jump for the first time in a while. According to AAA, the national average is $2.211 at the moment. The automotive association’s most recent national report, however, notes that the level remains below the price points seen at this time of year in the previous three years. “Until the pipeline bypass is completed, distribution issues will continue to put additional upward pressure on prices in the Southeast and possibly the Mid-Atlantic region,” the association says. AAA emphasizes, however, that the issue is likely to be temporary and will resolve itself after the pipeline is repaired.

According to, the pipeline rupture is expected to be remedied later this week, though weather and other external factors could slow Colonial Pipeline’s efforts to make repairs.

A pump out of fuel, shown at a Mapco gas station in Nashville, Tennessee. (David Mudd/Reuters)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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