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FMCSA suspends HOS for fuel haulers in 17 states after hackers shut down pipeline

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) responded to a cyber attack targeting a vital U.S. pipeline by waiving Hours of Service (HOS) requirements for truckers hauling fuel.

On Sunday, the FMCSA issued a temporary HOS exemption for truck drivers hauling gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

From the FMCSA’s Emergency Declaration:

This Emergency Declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations while providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products into the Affected States during the emergency from shortages due to the shutdown, partial shutdown, and/or manual operation of the Colonial pipeline system.  Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the shortages of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products due to the shutdown, partial shutdown, and/or manual operation of the Colonial pipeline system in the Affected States, or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.

The HOS suspension was issued in an attempt to prevent disruptions in the fuel supply chain following a cyber attack targeting the Colonial Pipeline. The pipeline delivers approximately 45% of the fuel consumed by the east coast.

On Friday, the Colonial Pipeline shut down following a ransomware attack by a hacker group called DarkSide. Since then, Colonial Pipeline has been able to restore some IT systems and is working with law enforcement and federal agencies including the Department of Energy. It isn’t clear how much money that DarkSide demanded or whether there are any plans to pay.

On Monday, DarkSide took to Twitter to clarify that their motives for shutting down the pipeline were purely financial.

As of Monday morning, the Colonial Pipeline remains shut down. However, the company says that they are working to restore service. From a Sunday evening press release:

The Colonial Pipeline operations team is developing a system restart plan. While our mainlines (Lines 1, 2, 3 and 4) remain offline, some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational. We are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations.

At this time, our primary focus continues to be the safe and efficient restoration of service to our pipeline system, while minimizing disruption to our customers and all those who rely on Colonial Pipeline. We appreciate the patience and outpouring of support we have received from others throughout the industry. 

To view the full FMCSA emergency declaration, please click here.