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In Pipeline Outage, South Carolina Enacts Price Gouging Law

Mike Mozart

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's top prosecutor has enacted a measure criminalizing price gouging following the shutdown of a pipeline that carries fuel to much of the state.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that he had declared an “abnormal disruption” in the fuel market following the hacking of the Colonial Pipeline, allowing him to put the state's price gouging statute in effect.

In such a circumstance, anyone found to be renting or selling a commodity at “an unconscionable price” could be charged with price gouging.

According to state law, those found guilty of price gouging can face a $1,000 fine or 30 days in jail.

Anyone who suspects price gouging can contact Wilson's office or email pricegouging@scag.gov.

The pipeline, operated by Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the Northeast. It delivers roughly 45% of fuel consumed on the East Coast, according to the company.

It was hit by what Colonial called a ransomware attack, in which hackers typically lock up computer systems by encrypting data, paralyzing networks, and then demand a large ransom to unscramble it.