Update: A number of sources suggest that Colonial Pipeline may have paid anywhere between four and five million dollars to get services up and running. Billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo that “The payments have been made to the terrorists… I understand from my sources that $4 million was paid.”The figure of $5 million was quoted by two sources to Bloomberg News. It is believed that the ransom was paid in untraceable cryptocurrency, and in return, Colonial received a decrypting tool to restore the network.
Despite numerous mixed messages on the campaign trail, once Joe Biden was inaugurated president, his position on gas in America became resoundingly clear: No more fossil fuels. Well, it appears that President Biden’s wish is coming true. But perhaps not in the way he expected.
The ransomware attack by Darkside hackers shut down the flow of fuel from a section that averages more than 100 million gallons per day. Although Colonial Pipeline announced yesterday, May 12, that services had resumed, America was gifted a brief glimpse into a world where energy is in short supply. That vision may serve as a wake-up call to an administration that is edging ever closer to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal way of thinking.
It’s Not Just the Hummers
One of the president’s first acts in office was to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. This was hailed as a significant step towards renewable energies. Despite a number of lawsuits being filed, Biden has so far stuck to his guns on this. But then gas prices started to rise. In fact, the price per gallon began rising on November 9, 2020, just several days after the 2020 election.
After the Darkside attack shut down parts of the Colonial pipeline, the price increase began a steeper climb. Videos and photographs of lines at gas stations began appearing on social media; lists of stations that had fuel shortages began to be posted, and panic buying ensued. While the White House tried to blame shortages on panic buyers alone, what was ignored by much of the media was the impact on businesses.
One of the largest overheads businesses face is energy. When the cost of energy increases, businesses rarely absorb the costs themselves but rather pass it on to the consumer, so even those who do not regularly drive – for example, those who live in large urban cities – still feel the hit in their wallets indirectly.
More Attacks Expected?
The age of the cyber attack is well and truly here. President Biden signed an Executive Order on Wednesday to strengthen cyber defense and provide additional strength to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The problem, however, is the Internet of Things (IoT). With almost every modern device being connected to the internet, from refrigerators to speakers, safeguards against hacking can only work so well. Each port (node) on a network is an access point that can be exploited.
Former Representative Denver Riggleman, an intelligence expert, highlighted just how close to chaos the nation really is. He said:
“If we had 96 hours with ten states without gas and power, people would be raiding houses in 72 of those hours. The worst cascading effect is the way people react, right? When they don’t have power, they don’t have water; they don’t have energy. It’s scary stuff.”
While President Biden has taken steps to prevent the worst excesses of another cyberattack, the reality of fuel hikes and shortages remains a dangerous specter on the horizon.
Set A Course for Disaster
It is not just bad actors in far-off countries that impact the U.S. energy supply. Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday threatened to seize profits from gas company Enbridge if it refused to comply with her order to shut down the Great Lakes oil pipeline. Labor organizers in Lansing protested Whitmer’s demands saying that thousands of jobs would be lost.
And what of accidents? It is not as though pipelines have not leaked or broken before. Then, of course, there are weather concerns; as was seen in Texas this year, surprising weather conditions resulted in power shortages. All of this combined could suggest that an anti-energy government – committed to derailing natural gas and oil in favor of an unknown and unknowable renewable energy future – risks sending the country into a spiral of chaos.
Read more from Mark Angelides.