The Biden administration on Tuesday updated on its ongoing efforts to monitor and mitigate the effects of the Colonial Pipeline outage, including potentially issuing a targeted waiver of the Jones Act.
The Jones Act regulates maritime commerce in the U.S. and generally requires shipping between U.S. ports to be carried out by U.S. ships.
"Today, USDOT’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) 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," the White House said in a statement. "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 Department of Transportation is also evaluating options by rail and highway.
The Biden administration acknowledged reports of fuel shortages in parts of the Southeast.
An emergency declaration has been issued by the Department of Transportation covering 18 states and Washington, D.C., and a temporary hours of service exemption has been granted in these states.
The pipeline, which transports a large amount of gasoline from Texas to the Northeast, was offline as of Tuesday with the expectation that it could be back up and running later this week.
It transports 100 million gallons of fuel each day, including 45% if all fuel consumed on the East Coast. Its products range from various grades of gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, jet fuel, and fuels for the U.S. military.
The FBI on Monday confirmed that it was a ransomware attack carried out by criminals belonging to the group known as DarkSide.
Upon learning that it had been targeted by ransomware, Colonial Pipeline said that it took certain systems offline to contain the threat.
On Monday night, Line 4, which runs from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Woodbine, Maryland, was temporarily operating under manual control while existing inventory is available, the company said.