Massachusetts unilateral oil spill legislation signed by Governor

On Wednesday, 4 August 2004, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney signed into law state oil spill legislation that was drafted in response to a 2003 barge spill in Buzzard's Bay. The legislation creates new financial and operating requirements for vessels calling in the state.

INTERTANKO and the American Waterways Operators (AWO) have opposed elements of the legislation that duplicate or vary from federal operational requirements. Among these provisions are requirements that tank vessels take tug escorts in certain Massachusetts waters, drug and alcohol testing procedures, and certain navigational requirements for vessels operating in state waters. The legislation also has extensive financial responsibility and response provisions which, under U.S. law, are within the legitimate prerogatives of state governments.

As noted in the article in last week’s Weekly News, INTERTANKO and AWO are cooperating to minimise the negative impacts of this legislation. Many of the elements of the Massachusetts legislation are in direct violation of federal supremacy principles as secured by INTERTANKO in its successful litigation against the State of Washington in 2000. In a joint press release the two organisations voiced their expectations that the United States Coast Guard would act decisively to clarify that federal law (relating to tug escorts (no requirement), drug and alcohol testing, navigational procedures and boardings by state officials) will control vessel operations in Massachusetts.

We understand that the Governor signed the bill with no other modifications and amendments and thus we assume that its final text is same as presented in last week’s Weekly News. Click here to download a copy of the text.


INTERTANKO will report on future developments.

Contact: Dragos Rauta