Massachusetts legislation – USCG urges cooperation

In the aftermath of the public hearing held by the Massachusetts Legislature in Boston, to which INTERTANKO/AWO delivered a joint testimony (see article in Weekly NEWS No. 22 of 28 May 2004), the U.S. Coast Guard formally asserted jurisdiction over significant aspects of the proposed State action. (Click here to download a copy of the proposed Bill HR 4724.)

1. US Coast Guard Assessment

In a  letter from VAdm Vivien Crea, the Commander of the First Coast Guard District, and its Annex, the US Coast Guard expressed concern that provisions of the State-proposed legislation "touch areas of regulation reserved to the Federal Government, as described in the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in United States v. Locke, 529 U.S. 89 (2000) (i.e. the Court case won by INTERTANKO at the Supreme Court), Ray v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 435 U.S. 151 (1978) and in Federal statutes at 46 U.S.C. §8501" and recommended cooperative action to implement federal solutions to the State’s environmental concerns. The Coast Guard letter proposed that "it would be in the best interests of the Massachusetts marine environment to pursue appropriate, cooperative Federal solutions". This approach "is the fastest route to deliver meaningful change to the current regulatory regime, and avoids unnecessary expenditure of State and Federal resources".

Specific provisions of the Massachusetts legislation that raise pre-emption concerns for the Coast Guard include: design, construction, and equipment requirements for escort tugs; drug and alcohol testing requirements for mariners; manning, watch standing, and crew list requirements on tugs and tows carrying oil in Buzzard’s Bay; state enforcement of any eventual recommended vessel route promulgated by the Coast Guard; requirements for tug escorts in certain situations; prohibitions on single hull vessels operating in state waters after their federally mandated phase-out dates; and state pilotage requirements for tankers and tank barges engaged in the coastwise trade.

2. INTERTANKO/AWO Supplemental testimony

INTERTANKO and AWO had jointly provided supplemental testimony in response to questions or issues raised by members or witnesses at hearings on 25 May 2004. Click here to download a copy of the testimony.

Contact: Dragos Rauta