Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Push US to Waive Jones Act

In recognition of the severity of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the US Department of Homeland Security approved a waiver of the federal Jones Act on September 8.

The waiver will be in effect for seven days after signature and is specifically tailored to transportation of refined products in hurricane-affected areas.

It will ensure that during the period, all options are available to distribute fuel to states and territories impacted by historic Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“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,” Elaine Duke, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary, said.

“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,” Duke added.

The Jones Act prohibits the transportation of cargo between points in the US, either directly or via a foreign port, or for any part of the transportation, in any vessel other than a vessel that has a coastwise endorsement.

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.

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