Gas prices soar; gov. assures supply OK in Tenn.

The governor tried to assure Tennessee drivers that there would be enough gas as prices spiked across the state due to a regional panic that Hurricane Ike could cause shortages.

AAA spokesman Don Lindsey said there was a run on gas stations in East Tennessee on Thursday fueled by fears about the impact of Hurricane Ike on gas supplies and refineries in the Gulf Coast. Some stations ran out of gas or sold all their supplies of the cheapest gas grade, Lindsey said.

"There is a chance that we will see pretty steep increases in the next several days," Lindsey said. Prices rose 50 cents a gallon at some stations on Friday.

Gov. Phil Bredesen said concerns over shortages led the federal government to lift some environmental restrictions on the sale of gas.

The Environmental Protection Agency waived specific fuel standards that are imposed during summer months to help control emissions from motor vehicles.

Bredesen said the waiver allows the early sale of gasoline blended for winter use in Tennessee and eight other Southeast states.

Lindsey said panicking and overrunning gas stations would only worsen the situation.

"We are not in the kind of crisis that people think we are in," he said. "This is a very flexible market in many ways. If they can't find it in the Gulf, they can go to the Midwest."

The operator of the Pilot Travel Centers gas station chain was urging customer to fill up as "they normally would." Chief Executive Jimmy Haslam said all stores are operating normally and they are working to keep an adequate supply of fuel available.

According to Pilot's Web site, gas prices at their Knoxville locations were about $3.99 for regular unleaded on Friday morning, but then jumped to $4.49 by the afternoon.

"Pilot has multiple locations in other states and 300 trucks available to shift fuel supplies around to various locations in order to minimize local impacts," Haslam said.

In Memphis, gas prices Friday ranged from $3.99 per gallon to $3.55 per gallon, according to

KAIT8 in Jonesboro, Arkansas and the Associated Press contributed to this report.