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Fuel tanks at Colonial Pipeline Baltimore Delivery in Baltimore on Monday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration approved a temporary waiver of shipping requirements late Wednesday to help Colonial Pipeline transport fuel, as service resumes across the U.S. following last week's ransomware attack that that took it offline.

Why it matters: The century-old Jones Act requires ships to be built in the U.S. and crewed by American workers, but the waiver means foreign companies can transport gasoline and diesel to areas where there are fuel shortages.

  • At least 11 states and Washington, D.C., have reported gas shortages since last Friday's hack.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' waiver "will enable the transport of additional gas and jet fuel between the Gulf Coast and East Coast ports to ease supply constraints," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement early Thursday.

What else they're saying: "As supplies return to normal, we will also continue our whole-of-government effort to mitigate any challenges," Psaki said, pointing to actions by agencies including the EPA, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Energy, and President Biden's executive order to improve cybersecurity.

  • "President Biden and the White House will monitor the situation closely in the coming days, and continue to urge Americans to just purchase what they need, and not hoard fuel, as supply is restored," Psaki added.

The big picture: Colonial began on Wednesday evening restarting operations for the 5,500-mile pipeline that carries 45% of fuel supplies in the eastern U.S.

  • The DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a regional emergency declaration Monday for 17 states and D.C. to keep fuel supply lines open, and several governors declared states of emergency the following day.
  • Biden officials have been acutely sensitive to the images of lines outside gas stations and Republicans have referred to the president as a "modern-day Jimmy Carter," Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene report.

Go deeper: Inside the White House response to Colonial hack

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on the waiver and further context. It also changed the headline to reflect the waiver is a Jones Act waiver, not a specific waiver for Colonial.

Go deeper

Colonial Pipeline restarting service after hack

Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Colonial Pipeline is restarting operations around 5 p.m. ET Wednesday, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced.

Why it matters: At least 11 states and Washington, D.C., have experienced gas shortages since a ransomware attack forced the critical pipeline running from Texas to New York to shut down on Saturday.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
May 12, 2021 - Economy & Business

Gas prices rise in several states as pipeline outage crimps supply

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Gas stations in several states are out of fuel and AAA reports the nationwide average price breached $3-per-gallon for the first time in six years amid the cyberattack-induced shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

Driving the news: The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the nation's largest refined fuel pipeline that extends from Texas into the Northeast, is creating a scramble as the outage persists into its sixth day.

Scoop: White House fears political fallout from pipeline hack

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The gas may be flowing again, but the White House is more worried than it's letting on about the potential fallout of the Colonial Pipeline hack that caused fuel shortages and triggered price increases, Axios has learned.

Behind the scenes: Senior Biden officials are acutely sensitive to the images of lines outside gas stations before Memorial Day — the typical launch to the summer driving season. Republicans also are jumping on the bandwagon, suggesting Joe Biden is a modern-day Jimmy Carter.