Gov. Cooper declares state of emergency over possible gas shortages

Gov. Roy Cooper (Twitter photo)

RALEIGH - Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday signed executive orders declaring a state of emergency to help maintain gasoline supplies in the wake of a major pipeline closure.

The Colonial Pipeline was closed so repairs can be made in the wake of damage caused in Houston by Hurricane Harvey. The pipeline provides nearly 40 percent of the South's gasoline, including Eastern North Carolina. It runs underground and is now under water in many parts of Texas, where inspections are needed before it can be fully operational again, Colonial spokesman Steve Baker said Thursday.

Officials hope the pipeline can be reopened by Sunday. In the meantime, as gas prices go up, Cooper signed the executive orders Thursday declaring a state of emergency. Executive Order No. 19 temporarily waives the cap on maximum hours of service restrictions for fuel vehicles traveling in and through North Carolina, according to a press release. The order will help gasoline move in and through North Carolina more easily and quickly in response to delivery problems caused by Hurricane Harvey.

"Hurricane Harvey's damage to refineries in Texas and Louisiana could ripple throughout the southeast, causing gasoline shortages and rising prices," Cooper said. "I'm taking action to make it easier to get gasoline into our state so North Carolinians who need gas can get it."

Executive Order No. 18 is aimed to stop price gouging of gasoline in the state. As a result, North Carolina's price gouging law against overcharging in a time of crisis is now in effect statewide for the next 45 days, the press release states.