The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has approved a Jones Act waiver request to an individual company to ease fuel supply constraints between Gulf Coast and East Coast ports, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
The Jones Act requires goods moved between U.S. ports to be carried by ships built domestically and staffed by U.S. crews.
Privately owned Colonial Pipeline began to slowly restart the nation's largest fuel pipeline network on Wednesday after a ransomware attack shut the line, triggering panic buying and fuel shortages in the southeastern United States.
But it will take several days to return to normal operations.
Mayorkas did not name the company to which the temporary and targeted waiver was granted, and said the approval was given in the interest of national defense, after consulting the Departments of Transportation, Energy, and Defense.
"This waiver will help provide for the transport of oil products between the Gulf Coast and East Coast ports to ease oil supply constraints as a result of the interruptions in the operations of the Colonial Pipeline," he said.
Separately, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the Biden administration will stay in contact with Colonial Pipeline, and offer any assistance to them as needed in the coming days.
The White House will work with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to mitigate any challenges, she said, and urged people not to hoard fuel and only purchase what they need.
(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya and Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)