WH allows overweight loads of gas to travel on interstate highways to ease East Coast shortages

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The White House announced new steps Wednesday aimed at alleviating gas shortages on day six of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.

Hackers paralyzed the critical fuel channel over the weekend, prompting “panic buying” of gas that is exacerbating shortages in eastern states.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Department of Transportation will allow 10 states along the Gulf Coast and East Coast to transport “overweight loads” of gas and other fuels on interstate highways, citing existing disaster declarations.

The permission applies to Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The Environmental Protection Agency also extended vapor-pressure waivers for states that received a reprieve on Tuesday and added several new states to the list.

Administration officials are hopeful the shutdown will be resolved by this weekend. Gas prices that were already climbing ahead of Memorial Day are rising faster because of the shutdown.

Gas Buddy, which tracks gas prices and demand, said as of 6 a.m. Wednesday a whopping quarter of North Carolina gas stations were out of fuel and Georgia and Virginia saw acute shortages, at 15% of stations apiece. About 13% of South Carolina stations were running empty, tweeted Patrick De Haan of Gas Buddy.

He said stations in Alabama, Florida, Maryland and Tennessee also ran out, though in single-digit percentages.

The administration said it is open to waiving aspects of a 1920 merchant marine law that governors which ships can carry goods in U.S. waters and between ports.

“The Department of Homeland Security stands ready to review any temporary Jones Act waiver requests from companies that demonstrate there is not sufficient capacity on Jones Act-qualified vessels to carry fuel to the affected region,” Ms. Psaki said.

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