An oil and gas pipeline system that was forced to shut down on Friday after a ransomware attack is not expected to be “substantially” restored until the end of the week, its operator, Colonial Pipeline, said on Monday.
“While this situation remains fluid and continues to evolve, the Colonial operations team is executing a plan that involves an incremental process that will facilitate a return to service in a phased approach,” the company said in a statement posted on its website. “This plan is based on a number of factors with safety and compliance driving our operational decisions, and the goal of substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week.”
The company said it was monitoring its customers’ supplies and was working with shippers to move fuel. Oil and gas prices, which had jumped earlier on Monday, came off their highs of the day after Colonial’s statement.
The sudden shut down of 5,500 miles of pipeline, which the company says carries nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supplies, has been a troubling sign of vulnerabilities in the nation’s energy infrastructure and raised concerns about fuel supplies to large portions of the country.
Experts said several airports that depend on the pipeline for jet fuel, including those in Nashville, Baltimore-Washington and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., could have a hard time later in the week. Airports generally store enough jet fuel for three to five days of operations.
The F.B.I. said on Monday that the attack was the work of a hacking group called DarkSide.
The confirmation of the hack comes as the Biden administration in the coming days is expected to announce an executive order to strengthen America’s cyberdefense infrastructure.
Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies, said Monday that the government believes DarkSide is “a criminal actor” but is looking for any ties the group may have to nation-states. She added that Colonial has not sought cyber support from the government, and could not confirm if the company, a private corporation, has paid any ransom.
The Biden administration will begin sending $350 billion in aid to state and local governments this month, a significant step in its effort to shore up segments of the economy that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, White House and Treasury officials said on Monday.
The infusion of funds, which were included in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill signed into law in March, marks President Biden’s first big opportunity to start reviving infrastructure across the nation and to fulfill his goal of ensuring a more equitable recovery.
“With this funding, communities hit hard by Covid-19 will able to return to a semblance of normalcy,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in a statement. “They’ll be able to rehire teachers, firefighters and other essential workers — and to help small businesses reopen safely.”
In remarks at the White House on Monday, Mr. Biden underscored the strain that many states and cities have faced in the last year and said the funds would help alleviate that pressure.
“Because states and local governments have to balance their budgets, a lot them had to lay off state employees and local employees when the economy slowed and tax revenues fell,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re talking about 1.3 million state and local employees out of work.”
The details of the disbursement have been eagerly awaited by the states, cities, territories and tribal governments that are expected to receive money. But several Republican-led states and the Biden administration are in a legal confrontation over whether states can cut taxes after taking relief money and using it to solidify their budgets.
The Treasury made clear on Monday that it would insist the relief money not be used to subsidize tax cuts, directly or indirectly.
“The American Rescue Plan ensures that funds needed to provide vital services and support public employees, small businesses and families struggling to make it through the pandemic are not used to fund reductions in net tax revenue,” the Treasury Department said. “If the funds provided have been used to offset tax cuts, the amount used for this purpose must be paid back to the Treasury.”
The Treasury Department also issued detailed guidance to states explaining how it will determine if the…