(The Center Square) – The gas shortages that have hit the southeastern United States have not been felt directly in Kentucky, but it has had a spinoff effect, according to industry officials.
There have been reports of “panic buying” in southern and western parts of the state, and the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Wednesday a convenience store chain with at least 40 locations in the state was limiting customers to just $30 worth of gas as it saw sales spike.
The outages, which have been reported from Maryland through Alabama, are the result of a cyberattack that forced the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which serves that region.
That pipeline only serves a small portion of Kentucky, but Steve McClain, the director of communications and public affairs for the Kentucky Grocers and Convenience Store Association, told The Center Square the group’s members are doing what they can to ensure they maintain their supplies.
One of the association’s main points of emphasis right now is encouraging customers to continue their normal buying habits. Otherwise, people buying more than they need at the time can put an unnecessary strain on supplies and lead to the outages the industry’s seeking to stop.
“Gas is this year’s toilet paper and cleaning supplies,” McClain said.
The association is also pushing for other measures to ensure gas stations across the state have plentiful supplies. That includes pushing for the state to seek a waiver from needing to sell reformulated gas.
The Environmental Protection Agency requires the specialized fuel be sold in Louisville during the warmer months as the city’s air quality decreases. On Tuesday, the EPA issued a 20-day RFG waiver for the District of Columbia, 11 southern states and parts of Florida.
Kentucky was not one of those states.
A message to Gov. Andy Beshear’s office was not returned Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Marathon Petroleum Corp., a major wholesale supplier for Kentucky and other markets, said the company constantly observes the market and makes changes to its operations as necessary. That pertains to all of Marathon’s markets, not just Kentucky.
“As the market conditions associated with the temporary shutdown of Colonial Pipeline evolve, we are making adjustments accordingly,” said Jamal Kheiry, a Marathon communications manager, told The Center Square in an email. “We are leveraging our logistics network and commercial relationships as we work to keep our customers supplied with fuel.”