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Feds consider shipping waiver for fuel after Colonial Pipeline cyberattack

Feds consider shipping waiver for fuel after Colonial Pipeline cyberattack
© Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The Department of Transportation (DOT) said Tuesday it is considering issuing a temporary waiver to allow fuel to be delivered to U.S. ports as parts of the East Coast face a gas crunch following the hack of Colonial Pipeline.

The DOT said in a statement it is mulling “a temporary and targeted waiver” of the Jones Act, which prohibits foreign-owned, operated or built ships from transporting goods in between ports in the U.S.

The DOT said that its Maritime Administration “initiated a survey of Jones Act-qualified vessels to begin the process of evaluating what assets are available in the Jones Act fleet to carry petroleum products within the Gulf, and from the Gulf up the Eastern Seaboard.”

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“This step is being taken to determine whether there is sufficient capacity on Jones Act-qualified vessels to carry the product and to determine if a waiver is warranted. Responses have been requested today.”

The DOT’s announcement comes hours after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued temporary waivers in three states and Washington, D.C. gas regulations intended to improve air quality. The waiver will allow Washington as well as Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia to sell dirtier-burning gasoline than is typically permitted.

The dual moves mark the government’s latest effort to expand the availability of fuel after the hack on Colonial Pipeline led it to shut down its main channel for transporting gas.

The company funnels refined gasoline and jet fuel from Texas to New York and closed 5,500 miles of pipeline in an attempt to contain the breach. The hack targeting the company is not believed to have obtained data on Colonial’s operations, but its pipeline was shuttered in an attempt to contain the damage.