The federal government issued issued a temporary blanket waiver of
the Jones Act to immediately allow additional oil tankers from the Gulf of Mexico to deliver product from the Gulf of Mexico to Northeastern ports.
"The administration's highest
priority is ensuring the health and safety of those impacted by
Hurricane Sandy and this waiver will remove a potential obstacle to
bringing additional fuel to the storm damaged region,” said Secretary
of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
The Jones Act requires ships moving cargo between two points in the United States to be built in the country, have a U.S. crew, and be flagged in the United States.
Napolitano said the waiver is temporary. Ships must load no later than Nov. 13, and offload at their destinations no later than Nov. 20.
The American Maritime Partnership, a group that represents Jones Act carriers, said in a statement that "to date, we are aware of no instances in which American vessels have not been able to meet transportation needs."
But it added "existing law allows for the granting of Jones Act waivers in certain circumstances where American vessels are not available. In such a circumstance, the American maritime industry will not stand in the way of needed Jones Act waivers. That has been our position in previous similar national emergencies, and it is our position today."
Scott Ross, associate director of the New Jersey Petroleum Council, which is part of the American Petroleum Institute, said operations were returning to normal at petroleum refineries operated by Hess and Phillips 66 and terminals such as the one operated by Shell and Motiva in New York Harbor.
Many of those facilities along the Arthur Kill were idled when power was knocked out during Hurricane Sandy.
Individual filling stations scattered across New York and New Jersey also became inoperable because of power outages. That has led to long lines at gas stations, but Ross said most of the terminals have regained power and lines of motorists at filling stations in the region are expected to subside as more towns get power restored. - Chris Dupin