The Department of Homeland Security is waiving the Jones Act to allow other-than-U.S.-flag tankers into New York harbor to provide gasoline to the gas-starved region, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference Friday morning.
Cuomo said the Coast Guard is allowing gasoline tankers into the Port of New York and New Jersey, which remains closed to other vessel traffic because of hurricane damage to container terminals.
Because New York harbor had significant debris, including containers blown from container terminals, tankers could not enter the harbor safely, but Cuomo said those restrictions were lifted Thursday. “There should be a real change in condition,” Cuomo said. “People should see it quickly.”
Tankers loaded with gasoline are now en route to fuel terminals in the harbor. A major barge got to Newburgh at 2 a.m. Friday morning. Other major distribution points are now back online, Cuomo said.
Two million barrels of gasoline were being offloaded into port as of Friday morning, a Coast Guard admiral at the press conference said, and tankers loaded down with fuel were continuing to make their way into the New York area. But he said he did not want to open the harbor to other types of vessels because of concerns it would get clogged with ship traffic.
Cuomo said he is also issuing an executive order that waives the state’s requirements that fuel tankers register and pay a tax before unloading. “I don’t like to waive the tax. I don’t want to lose the money,” Cuomo said. “But I do want to accelerate the flow of gasoline.”
The N.Y. governor also said the state would provide $100 million to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy to help them rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by the massive storm.
He also warned the state's power utilities that they will be held accountable for their Hurricane Sandy performance. Unless they restore power to the region’s homes and offices soon, “I would direct the Public Service Commission to commence a proceeding to revoke your certificates," Cuomo said.