UPDATE – September 14, 2017 – The Department of Homeland Security has extended the seven-day waiver described below to run through Friday, September 22, 2017, and expanded the number of states to which it applies. This includes refined petroleum products shipped from Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Read the complete waiver here.
September 11, 2017 – On September 8th, the Department of Homeland Security waived the requirements of the Jones Act due to the “potential imminent shortage of energy supply” in areas affected by Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Harvey disrupted the oil supply system in the U.S. Gulf Coast, causing the closure of some refineries and pipeline networks.
The Department of Energy and the Department of Defense requested the waiver in the interest of national defense to transport petroleum products. The waiver is in effect for a 7-day period with respect to the transportation of refined petroleum products to be shipped from New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisiana to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Generally speaking, the Jones Act requires that merchandise between points in the United States known as “coastwise trade” must be transported with vessels built in the United States and owned by United States citizens, with a U.S. crew. In order to waive this requirement, the relevant agencies must determine that it is necessary in the interest of national defense and determine the “non-availability of qualified United States flag capacity to meet national defense requirements.” The waiver permits foreign vessels to engage in this trade for the 7-day period.