By Joseph Choi
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Sunday issued a regional emergency declaration in 17 states and the District of Columbia in response to the shutdown of one of the largest pipelines in the U.S., which supplies around 45 percent of fuel consumed by the East Coast.
The regional emergency declaration from the Department of Transportation lifts restrictions for motor carriers and drivers who are providing assistance to areas that are suffering a shortages of “gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products” in the wake of the Colonial pipeline shutdown.
The regional emergency declaration affects the following territories: 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.
The declaration grants drivers and carriers relief from “Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations except as restricted herein.”
These regulations are reinstated once a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used for interstate commerce that does not provide assistance to help the shortage.
“Upon termination of direct assistance to 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, the motor carrier and driver are subject to the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 390 through 399,” the declaration read.
Carriers or drivers who are subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by the declaration.
The emergency declaration will stay in effect until the emergency is over or until midnight on June 8.
The Colonial Pipeline Company said Friday it was shutting down more than 5,000 miles of pipeline after a ransomware attack on its system. Experts have warned that gas prices may begin to rise if the pipeline is not operational within the next few days. As of Sunday, the pipeline has been out of operation for three days.
On Sunday it was reported that the investigation into the cyberattack that shut down the pipeline had been linked to a criminal ransomware gang called DarkSide.
Editors note: An earlier version of this story misstated the type of declaration issued. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a regional emergency declaration.