INTERTANKO/AWO discuss with USCG Commandant the threat to federal uniformity of Massachusetts Oil Spill Response regulation

The Chairman of the INTERTANKO North American Panel and former INTERTANKO Chairman, Richard du Moulin, and the American Waterways Operators (AWO) met with the USCG Commandant Admiral Collins to discuss the Massachusetts Oil Spill Response regulation (see Weekly NEWS No. 37 of 10 September 2004).

The INTERTANKO / AWO message conveyed to the USCG re-iterated both organisations' commitment to leadership in marine safety and environmental protection, with these goals best being served by a uniform U.S. federal legislative/ regulatory regime. Both believe that the Massachusetts oil spill prevention law is a threat to the uniformity of the federal regime. INTERTANKO feels particularly strongly about the issue given its role in challenging the WashingtonState legislation (see “US Supreme Court supports INTERTANKO in Washington State Case”). INTERTANKO and AWO told Adm. Collins that they have no doubt at all that the Massachusetts law cannot be allowed to stand.

We very much appreciate the letter sent by Adm. Collins to Massachusetts Governor Romney last week and we thank him for his leadership in asserting the federal prerogative. If the State of Massachusetts will not agree to stay the provisions of the state law we urge the Coast Guard to take the next step and secure interagency support for a federal challenge to the state legislation.

The current situation is untenable, not only because vessel owners are already bearing the burden of compliance with the state law, but because the existence of the Massachusetts law sends exactly the wrong signal to other States about the federal government’s willingness, or otherwise, to protect its prerogative.

We advised Adm. Collins Commandant of plans for the upcoming INTERTANKO Council meeting on 29 October 2004 where policy decisions will be taken which will require a knowledge of the strategy that is to be adopted in this case by the Coast Guard.

Contact: Dragos Rauta