A fuel shortage could impact container operations like these at the Garden City Terminal in Savannah.
Photo GPA / Stephen B. Morton
While this is not a typical RT&S story, the US DOT’s efforts to reduce the impact of the Colonial pipeline failure are worth considering.
The fuel shortage caused by the cyberattack on the main Colonial pipeline route could impact rail construction projects and container operations throughout the eastern United States. Diesel fuel for trucks and track equipment could be in short supply if the shutdown continues. Hopefully the pipeline will be back in service before any major delays, but here’s a press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation on the alternatives the agency is working on with different modes of transportation.
âThe Biden-Harris administration is continuously assessing the impact of the ongoing colonial pipeline incident on East Coast fuel supplies and monitoring reported shortages in parts of the Southeast. This ongoing effort includes assessing the resources that the federal government can mobilize to mitigate potential impacts.
âAs part of this process, the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) has begun the work necessary to enable the review of a temporary and targeted exemption from the Jones Act.
“[Yesterday], US DOT Maritime Administration (MARAD) launched a Jones Act Qualified Vessels investigation to begin the process of assessing the assets available in the Jones Act fleet to transport petroleum products in the Gulf and Gulf to the East Coast. This step is taken to determine whether there is sufficient capacity on vessels qualified under the Jones Act to transport the product and to determine whether a waiver is warranted. Responses have been requested today.
âThe role of the Maritime Administration in the Jones Act waiver process is to determine the availability of Jones Act vessels to carry the products for which a waiver is requested. The authority to receive requests and approve waivers of Jones Law rests with the Department of Homeland Security.
âOver the weekend, the US DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it was taking steps to create more flexibility for road carriers and drivers. The FMCSA has issued a temporary duty hours exemption that applies to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to Alabama, Arkansas, the District of Columbia , Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
“[Yesterday] FMSCA [added] West Virginia is on the list of states covered, bringing the total to 18 states covered.
âThe top priority for the US DOT is safety, and while current circumstances dictate industry flexibility, the FMCSA will work closely with its state and industry partners to monitor the hours and conditions of workers. drivers for the duration of the exemption.
“More, US DOT Federal Railways Administration (FRA) calls on rail operators to determine their capacity to help transport fuel from inland ports and whether there are any additional measures FRA could take to help them increase their capacity to do so. They also engage the industry in identifying trends indicating capacity pressures.
“US DOT FMCSA and Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) monitor states that have issued emergency declarations allowing tank trucks to carry extra gallons on national highways. Other states are considering similar action. The FMCSA and FHWA are working with the full list of potentially affected states, sharing information and best practices to align these efforts. The agencies also issued a public notice advising ten states, with major disaster declarations in progress, that they have the authority to allow tankers to carry extra gallons on federal highways.
“US DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) assisted Colonial Pipeline with the manual commissioning of Line 4 efforts yesterday and continues to support efforts to manually ensure the safe movement of fuels, while the concomitant efforts to restore the system to function continue.
âSince the weekend, US DOT has been conducting outreach to gather information on how US DOT and our agencies can help. To date, senior U.S. DOT officials have spoken to officials from several states and locations. Agency staff have also been in contact with labor, security and industry groups. Awareness is ongoing.
“This situation continues to develop and the Department of Transport remains committed to providing assistance wherever it is needed.”