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Biden admin grants Colonial waiver to ease fuel shortages as service restarts after hack

The Biden administration announced late Wednesday a temporary waiver of the Jones Act for Colonial Pipeline as service resumes across the U.S. following a ransomware attack that that took it offline last week.

Why it matters: The century-old Act requires ships to be built in the U.S. and crewed by American workers, but the waiver means foreign companies can transport gasoline and diesel to areas where there are fuel shortages.

  • Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorka's waiver "will enable the transport of additional gas and jet fuel between the Gulf Coast and East Coast ports to ease supply constraints," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement early Thursday.
  • At least 11 states and Washington, D.C., have reported gas shortages since last Friday's hack.

What they're saying: "As supplies return to normal, we will also continue our whole-of-government effort to mitigate any challenges," Psaki said, pointing to actions by agencies including the EPA, the Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Department of Energy, and President Biden's executive order to improve cybersecurity.

  • "President Biden and the White House will monitor the situation closely in the coming days, and continue to urge Americans to just purchase what they need, and not hoard fuel, as supply is restored," Psaki added.

The big picture: Colonial began on Wednesday evening restarting operations for the 5,500-mile pipeline that carries 45% of fuel supplies in the eastern U.S.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on the waiver.

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