Hours of service waiver issued because of pipeline cyberattack

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Sunday, May 9, issued a regional emergency declaration to waive hours of service regulations for drivers hauling fuel. 

The waiver, effective until June 8, was issued in conjunction with the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, which disrupted the fuel supply on the East Coast. The waiver applies 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.

It applies to truckers hauling gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products.

Colonial Pipeline operates the largest pipeline carrying fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. It said it “halted all pipeline operations” Friday night, May 7, following the ransomware cyberattack. A criminal group known as Dark Side may be responsible for the attack, NBC News reported.

Colonial delivers about 45% of the supply of gasoline to the Southeast.

GasBuddy, the app that tracks fuel prices at 150,000 locations in North America cautioned against motorists overreacting to the pipeline problem. On Sunday, May 9, GasBuddy posted on its website: "Panic buying or hoarding of gasoline will prolong outages and price spikes, making them much worse. It is true that if the pipeline remains out of service into the early part of next week, roughly Tuesday or so, that some gas stations may run low on gasoline. Tank farms that take the gasoline from the pipeline are likely starting to see supply run low, so it is vital that motorists do not overwhelm the system by filling their tanks."

Colonial Pipeline Saturday night, May 8, issued the following statement:

On May 7, the Colonial Pipeline Company learned it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack. We have since determined that this incident involves ransomware. In response, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems. Upon learning of the issue, a leading, third-party cybersecurity firm was engaged, and they have launched an investigation into the nature and scope of this incident, which is ongoing. We have contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies. 

Colonial Pipeline is taking steps to understand and resolve this issue. At this time, our primary focus is the safe and efficient restoration of our service and our efforts to return to normal operation. This process is already underway, and we are working diligently to address this matter and to minimize disruption to our customers and those who rely on Colonial Pipeline.

Colonial Pipeline said Sunday evening some of its lines between terminals and delivery points are once again online but that its main lines are still shut down.

The pipeline transports around 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil and jet fuel. The pipeline covers more than 5,500 miles and carries nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply. 

The full text of FMSCA’s waiver is here: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/esc-ssc-wsc-regional-emergency-declaration-2021-002-05-09-2021

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