The Trump administration is waiving the Jones Act to provide Florida relief from fuel shortages as Hurricane Irma threatens to hit the state this weekend.
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said Friday the Department of Homeland Security issued an emergency waiver of the Jones Act, which requires all shipping between U.S. ports be done by American-built and American-crewed vessels.
"We are worried about the fuel shortages," Bossert said at the White House press briefing. "We are bringing in as much supply of refined fuel as possible, and we've waived a particular statute that allows for foreign-flagged vessels to help in that effort. So, as many tanker ships as possible are now being brought to bear on the effort to bring in as much fuel as possible to help Floridians regardless of their flag vessel status."
The move to waive the Jones Act comes after the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday extended a previous 38-state fuel emissions waiver another 11 days in advance of Irma.
That waiver eliminates the need for states to meet strict emission requirements for low-volatility gasoline in order to move fuel to market more quickly and reduce supply shortfalls caused by the storms.
Florida is grappling with major fuel shortages. At least 40 percent of gas stations in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale region have run out of fuel, according to the website GasBuddy.
Hurricane Irma, a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, is expected to hit South Florida by late Saturday and into early Sunday.