AWO/INTERTANKO Joint Testimony on the Massachusetts Bill on Oil Spill Prevention and Response

INTERTANKO and the American Waterways Operators jointly offered testimony this week before the Massachusetts Legislature in Boston. In April 2003, a barge carrying fuel oil spilled approximately 14,000 gallons of oil as it approached a southern Massachusetts port. State Legislators from the affected areas have been active in meeting with local environmental organisations to address perceived deficiencies in existing safety and compensation schemes.

These efforts, although clearly well-intentioned, are deviations from existing federal standards. Because INTERTANKO and AWO have devoted great effort to preserving maximum uniformity in US approaches to marine environmental protection, both Associations joined forces to attempt to explain to Massachusetts legislators the potential for damage inherent in deviations from federal requirements. Of particular concern is preserving the hard-won legal clarity that INTERTANKO achieved in the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision of International Association of Independent Tanker Owners v.Locke a case that overturned State of Washington regulations that purported to impose design, construction, training, navigation and personnel qualifications practices aboard tankers calling in that State.

The representative of INTERTANKO and AWO, Jonathan Benner, urged the legislators to reconsider efforts to impose additional penalties and financial requirements and cautioned them against tinkering with existing federal requirements. He urged them to consult with the U.S. Coast Guard before “re-inventing the wheel” on marine safety in Massachusetts. The INTERTANKO and AWO position reminded legislators of the holding of the U.S. Supreme Court and the importance of uniform application of existing laws.

Click here to view the INTERTANKO/AWO joint submission.

Contact: Dragos Rauta