DHS Secretary Duke Signs Jones Act Waiver to Secure Fuel After Major Hurricanes Irma and Harvey

A car drives on an empty highway in downtown Miami before the arrival of Hurricane Irma to south Florida, in Miami, Florida, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Friday said it was temporarily waiving the Jones Act for tankers to ensure enough fuel reaches emergency responders and affected areas during Hurricane Irma and in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The waiver was signed Friday by Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke and will be in effect for seven days. The waiver is specifically tailored to transportation of refined petroleum products in hurricane-affected areas. It includes shipments of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Louisiana to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

The DHS said 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, both of which have turned out to be historic storms.

A copy of the waiver can be found HERE.

The Jones Act requires that cargo shipped between points in the U.S. be transported on vessels that are built in the United States and owned and and crewed by American citizens. 

The waiver will allow oil and gas operators to use often cheaper or more readily available foreign-flagged vessels to move petroleum cargoes within the affected areas.

“This is a precautionary measure to ensure we have enough fuel to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of this potentially devastating storm,” said Acting Secretary Duke.

“Hurricane Harvey significantly disrupted the distribution of fuel across the Southeastern states, and those states will soon experience one of the largest mass evacuations in American history while at the same time we’ll see historic movements through those states of restoration and response crews, followed by goods and commodities back into the devastated areas.”

The last Jones Act waiver was issued in December 2012, for petroleum products to be delivered for relief assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.