10 March 2005

INTERTANKO has allied itself with American Waterways Operators, Chamber of Shipping of America and BIMCO to petition to join the U.S. Government Complaint against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The industry alliance sees the State Oil Spill Act as a threat to safety and to environmental protection.
Which is a polite way of saying that the People's Republic of Taxachusetts has demonstrated the old political maxim, "It's way more important to be seen doing something than it is to worry doing something effective." State regulation of interstate commerce is unconstitutional, and there are enough shysters in the state gov't and legislature that they should know that.
The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO); the American Waterways Operators (AWO) - the national trade association for the American tugboat, towboat and barge industry; the Chamber of Shipping of America; and the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) formally petitioned this week to join a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Government against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts concerning an unconstitutional
oil spill law enacted there.
Not that these yahoos have clean hands. There have been times -- once or twice -- when the abovementioned retromingent pithecoids have used -- or attempted to use -- government regulation to squash their competition.
The lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (Civil Action No. 05-10112 JLT) on January 18, 2005, charges that the Oil Spill Act impermissibly treads on federal jurisdiction, specifically, the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard, in making rules governing maritime operations in U.S. waters. It also asserts that comprehensive federal regulation already exists in the areas covered by the state Act, and that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution provides that federal laws and regulations override any attempt by a state government to legislate or regulate in the same areas. This same provision was upheld when INTERTANKO won its long-running legal battle against the State of Washington by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Locke, 529 U.S. 89 (2000).
Beware, my friends. There are few ideas so good they can't be screwed up through the attention of shysters and politicians
The Act was signed into law in Massachusetts on August 4, 2004 in response to a 2003 tank barge accident that resulted in an oil spill in Buzzards Bay. It regulates oil-carrying vessels travelling in interstate and/or international commerce while such vessels are within the waters of Massachusetts. The industry asserts that such interstate commerce requires a single, clear set of federal regulatory standards that are uniform from state to state and locality to locality, in
order to avoid confusion that could lead to accidents.
We'll let them pat themselves on the back...
INTERTANKO’s members represent, on a tonnage basis, approximately 70% of the world’s independently owned (i.e., not government-owned or oil company-owned) self-propelled tank vessel fleet’. Many INTERTANKO members own or operate tank vessels that currently call at ports in Massachusetts while engaged in interstate or foreign commerce.
In submitting this motion to intervene, INTERTANKO stated that its members who call at Massachusetts ports, or are considering doing so, have been adversely affected by the Act. “Our members are subject to being required to equip, man, operate, deploy, and manage their vessels in accordance with the Act when in Massachusetts waters, in a manner different from federal requirements and requirements in other states and countries. The departure of Massachusetts from an extensive federal regulatory scheme poses a burden on and expense to our members.”
The Association continues to point out that “the lack of uniformity impairs federal control of tank vessel safety standards and presents a threat to international maritime safety, as well as to the lives and property of INTERTANKO’s members, their employees, and to the marine environment.” It adds that its members not calling at Massachusetts ports are adversely affected by the Act “to the extent that the Act’s deviations from federal and international requirements constitute impermissible barriers to their use of Massachusetts ports even when their vessels already comply with federal laws and international treaties.”

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