Obama administration waives shipping rule to get fuel to Northeast ports

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday issued a temporary waiver of the Jones Act, which will let foreign fuel tankers dock in Northeast ports and help get fuel to areas that are seeing fuel shortages in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The decision was made just days after reports of gas shortages in New York City and parts of New Jersey, which has led many gas stations to close and also led to reports of violence as people hunt for fuel.

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The Jones Act, part of the Merchant Marine Act, requires all water-borne goods shipped between U.S. ports to be moved on U.S.-flagged and U.S.-made ships, and staffed by U.S. citizens. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday that the waiver of this rule would last until Nov. 13 to address shortages caused by Sandy.

"The administration's highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of those impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and this waiver will remove a potential obstacle to bringing additional fuel to the storm damaged region," she said.

Napolitano said the waiver would let any ship carry fuel from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeastern United States. DHS said officials are "continuing to monitor the situation" and are prepared to take "additional actions as necessary to ensure that the energy needs of the region affected by Hurricane Sandy are met."

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