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USDOT announces additional help for fuel haulers in 10 states affected by pipeline shutdown

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that 10 states will allow flexibility for overweight trucks to transport fuel on interstates and federal highways following the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.

On Friday, the Colonial Pipeline shut down following a ransomware attack by a hacker group called DarkSide, halting 2.5 million barrels per day of fuel shipments. The pipeline is responsible for delivering approximately 45% of the fuel consumed by the east coast and the shutdown is now leading to fuel shortages across the area.

In response to the attack, 10 states including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia will now allow flexibility for overweight truck permits.

From the USDOT press release:

Each State must continue to follow its own procedures for issuance of special permits authorizing the loads, but the added flexibility announced today lawfully permits these trucks to run on the Interstate Highway System and other Federal highways.

Previous Presidential declarations created this authority for up to 120 days.  Due to the declarations’ varied dates of issuance, that period will expire at different points between now and early September.  The first State whose 120-day period will expire is Maryland, on June 4 and the last State is Virginia, on September 7. 

These 10 states are already covered by a separate order, issued on May 9 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, that wave Hours of Service (HOS) requirements for truckers hauling fuel. The HOS suspension was issued in an attempt to prevent disruptions in the fuel supply chain following the cyber attack.

Consistent with 23 U.S.C. 127(i) and applicable State laws, States that are currently operating under Federal Major Disaster Declarations may issue special permits to overweight vehicles carrying divisible loads on Interstate and Defense Highways that are delivering relief supplies, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products.  States may exercise this authority for 120 days from the date of the declaration of the major disaster.

As of May 11, the Colonial Pipeline has continued to work to restore their system. From their press release:

Actions taken by the Federal Government to issue a temporary hours of service exemption for motor carriers and drivers transporting refined products across Colonial’s footprint and actions taken by several Governors to lift weight restrictions on tanker trucks should help alleviate local supply disruptions. This is in addition to the Reid Vapor Pressure wavier issued today by the U.S. EPA that will also help alleviate supply constraints in several states serviced by our system.

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