Barge industry hails pollution decision
The American Waterways Operators, the national trade association for the American towing industry, hailed a decision by the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts declaring a 2004 Massachusetts oil spill statute unconstitutional.
A lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department challenged the constitutionality of the law, which was enacted in response to a 2003 accidental tank barge oil spill in Buzzards Bay off Cape Cod.
The Department of Justice lawsuit asserted that the Massachusetts oil spill law tried to make law in areas that are reserved exclusively to the federal government.
Tom Allegretti, the president of AWO, said the decision 'upheld the U.S. Coast Guard’s regulatory authority regarding vessel operations in U.S. waters' and was 'important for interstate commerce.
For each portion of the Massachusetts state statute struck down in this case, there is a federal statute or regulation already in place,' he said 'Those federal provisions create a consistent regulatory framework that is essential for the safe and efficient functioning of interstate commerce and in this case, safety and environmental protection on U.S. waters.'
In a ruling earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro agreed the state law was 'pre-empted, invalid and unconstitutional.' His ruling bars the state from enforcing seven provisions of the law.