Georgia suspends state gas tax amid Colonial Pipeline outage

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order that will suspend the state’s gas tax through Saturday after the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline’s network led to a rise in fuel prices and shortages in some parts of Georgia.

The Republican said Tuesday that his order will “probably help level the price for a little while” though he urged Georgians to avoid a rush to the fuel pumps. State officials say waiving the tax will amount to about 20-30 cents per gallon.

“We feel like this is very temporary,” he said before a statewide tour to tout his legislative agenda. “You don’t need to go out and fill out every five gallon tank you’ve got. Get what you need, let everybody else get what they need, get to work and do the things you need to do.”

The Alpharetta-based pipeline company turned off much of its system after a ransomware attack, and said it plans to “substantially” restore its services by the end of the week. Colonial operates more than 5,500 miles of pipeline that supplies about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.

The shutdown hasn’t yet battered supplies locally, though AAA predicts gasoline prices in the region could rise three to seven cents per gallon this week. The auto agency also cautioned there could be “limited fuel availability” in places – a trend Kemp said worried him.

“We are seeing some shortages around the state, and we don’t want a run on the pumps,” he said.

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Georgia on Tuesday was $2.87, up 11 cents from a week ago. In metro Atlanta, GasBuddy logged the price of a gallon at about $2.89, an increase of nearly 4 cents from the day before.

Other parts of Kemp’s order lift weight restrictions on tankers that carry fuel to gas stations and warn against price gouging.

Georgia governors have taken similar steps before to blunt rising gas prices. Then-Gov. Sonny Perdue suspended the state sales tax on gas for a month in 2005 as prices soared in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Three years later, Perdue halted an increase in the gas tax collection amid spiking fuel costs.