State oil spill law struck down
A trade association for the towing industry hailed a federal court decision striking down a Massachusetts law passed following a catastrophic oil spill in Buzzards Bay in 2003.
Judge Douglas Woodlock of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts said the law of preemption “leaves the last word under federal law regarding the formulation of regulations to control vessel traffic, to enhance vessel safety and to decrease environmental hazards in Buzzards Bay to the Coast Guard. Congress has explicitly authorized the Coast Guard to do so through its rulemaking process.”
He said Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention Act must give way to the federal Ports and Waterway Safety Act of 1972.
The American Waterways Operators applauded the decision, which affirmed a 2008 recommendation by a magistrate judge.
“Federal law provides a consistent regulatory framework that helps ensure a safe operating environment for interstate commerce by preventing a confusing set of different situational rules dependent on location,” said Thomas Allegretti, AWO’s president and chief executive officer.