COVID-19 Energy Sector Response Efforts and Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a product of collaborative efforts to gather current information. DOE appreciates everyone’s patience during this dynamic event and encourages everyone to share information. Send any updates, concerns or questions to [email protected]. These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.

A PDF version of this FAQ is also available.

Current Status of DOE Response Efforts

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) has been closely monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) since January 31. Within CESER, the Emergency Support Function #12 (ESF#12) Energy Response Organization (ERO) is part of the federal mitigation and response to COVID-19. CESER and the ERO are holding regular calls with state and industry partners, to discuss preparations, provide awareness, and assess issues that may require federal support, including long-term concerns due to supply chain disruptions. Coordination and associated tasks and Requests for Information (RFIs) from the federal, state, and energy sector will continue into the near future.

The ERO is activated at a Level III and ESF#12 Regional Coordinators have been virtually supporting activations in the National Response Coordination Center and FEMA Regions V and IX.  In the other regions, the DOE Regional Coordinators are monitoring and staying in regular contact with states in their designated regions to identify needs.  The ERO is identifying a list of essential ESF#12 functions and preparing staffing plans for these positions. 

CESER advises energy sector partners to remain vigilant to cybersecurity threats. CESER also encourages energy sector companies to assess the full breadth of risk within the supply chain, including that of managed and industry service providers to evaluate how COVID-19 may affect service and their contractors approach to service delivery.

COVID-19 Resources

General Web Links:

Energy Web Links:

State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Web Links:

FAQs

What guidance is available for energy sector personnel & social distancing?

Protective measures for access to homes and businesses in restricted areas should follow CDC and OSHA guidance:

Non-essential work orders at customer homes or businesses that require workers to enter may be deferred or postponed when possible to preserve Personnel Protection Equipment (PPE) for essential emergency work and to protect the health and safety of personnel.

Are energy personnel and services considered essential?

CESER worked with industry and with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to put together a list of essential critical infrastructure workers. The guidance can be found at: https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CISA-Guidance-on-Essential-Critical-Infrastructure-Workers-1-20-508c.pdf

How can essential personnel access restricted areas?

In cases where access is restricted, the State Emergency Operating Centers (SEOCs) have defined protocols for allowing access for essential personnel.  County Public Health Departments are also involved and will have representatives at the SEOC for coordinating purposes.  DOE ESF#12 Regional Coordinators are supporting EOCs virtually and can assist if needed.  Send an e-mail to [email protected] if you need to contact your DOE Regional Coordinator.

How can my company acquire PPE for essential personnel?

Energy sector companies are monitoring the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for essential workers. Currently the first priority is to ensure PPE is available to workers in the healthcare field and for first responders. CESER is working with the interagency to elevate the need for PPE in the energy sector. In the jurisdictions in which they operate, energy sector companies can connect with local or state energy officials or emergency operations centers to engage in a discussion about the prioritization of any future needs for PPE, testing, or other unmet needs.

What does “shelter in place” mean, and how will these Orders affect critical energy services?

Some Governors and local government leaders have instituted “Stay at Home” or “Shelter in Place” orders to limit the spread of COVID-19. The orders vary, but generally include provisions to allow essential services to remain open and for essential workers to continue working. Links to these types of orders can be found on the National Governor’s Association website: https://www.nga.org/coronavirus/

Will domestic travel restrictions affect access between state borders?

Domestic travel advisories are not expected to affect critical services or travel for energy sector employees. 

What does the partial closure of the Canadian U.S. border mean? 

The current restrictions do not allow non-essential travel. If such restrictions are widened, DOE will work with the FEMA National Response Coordination Center and DHS to identify energy sector employees for critical energy infrastructure located near the border to allow travel across the border to support critical work.

Can the use of winter blend fuel continue beyond the May 1 switch to summer blend?

Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) Waiver Requests

Industry groups are requesting RVP waivers asking to continue using the existing supply of winter blend fuels after the May 1, 2020, switch to the summer blend. Also being discussed is the possibility of getting a waiver to allow Reformulated Gasoline Blendstock (RBOB) to be commingled with Conventional Gasoline Blendstock (CBOB) – and vice-versa to improve fuel terminal and pipeline management with reduced demands. At this time, EPA has not issued any waivers.

For more information on waivers, visit the DOE Energy Waiver Library.

How can my company ensure timely and efficient transport of goods and services? is there an hours-of-service waiver?

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Emergency Declaration

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a Federal Motor Carrier Administration Declaration and Expanded Emergency Declaration that provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations that are providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19. The declaration shall remain in effect until the termination of the emergency or until 11:59 P.M. (ET) on April 12, 2020, whichever occurs sooner.

FMCSA Declaration Information

Emergency Declarations Waivers, Exemptions and Permits

What are the effects of COVID-19 on port access?

The Coast Guard Assistant Commandant issued 3 Marine Safety Information Bulletins (MSIB) on Novel Coronavirus.

To view the most recent MSIB regarding COVID-19, refer to the Coast Guard MSIB Publications

The Coast Guard recommends that people review the CDC travel guidance and the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories related to COVID-19.


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