US Waives Jones Act to Ease Hurricane Logistics
On September 8, in recognition of the severity of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke approved a waiver of the Jones Act.
The waiver will ensure that over the next week, all options are available to distribute fuel to states and territories impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The waiver will be in effect for seven days and is specifically addressed to the transportation of refined products in hurricane-affected areas.
The waiver covers the transportation of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel to be shipped from New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Louisiana to South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and that are loaded on board a vessel within the seven-day waiver period.
Hurricane Harvey disrupted the oil supply system, Duke noted, in her decision memorandum, and shortages of energy supply are expected in areas affected by Hurricane Irma. “In light of the impact on the affected region’s energy needs, the Department of Energy (DOE) has recommended that the Department of Homeland Security waive the requirements of the Jones Act in the interest of national defense to facilitate the transportation of the necessary volume of petroleum products for a seven-day period.” The Department of Defense also requested the waiver of the Jones Act in the interest of national defense.
The Jones Act mandates that vessels transiting between points in the United States must be built in the US and wholly owned by US citizens. The act can be waived if that is necessary in the interest of national defense.
The DOE recommendation to DHS noted that “some refineries and product pipeline networks are shut-in or running at reduced rates” as a result of Hurricane Harvey. “These refineries and pipeline networks are critical to the production and distribution of refined products such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels for the east coast. As a result, DOE determines that conditions exist for a potential imminent shortage in the areas that are currently predicted to be affected by Hurricane Irma…”