California Files "Friend of the Court" Brief with 19 States Urging U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Washington State's Oil Spill Prevention Program

Thursday, November 18, 1999
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(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today filed a "friend of the court" brief asking the United States Supreme Court to uphold Washington State's oil spill prevention program in the case of Intertanko v. Locke. California was joined in the amicus curiae brief by 19 other states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

"The largest portion of crude oil arriving in California comes by sea, resulting in heavy tanker traffic and a ever-present threat of oil spills," Lockyer said. "No state should be prevented from protecting its citizens and environment from oil spills. Absent a conflict with federal regulation, such state regulation should not be preempted."

The amicus brief contends that the field preemption theory advanced by the tanker association is so broad that it threatens the viability of joint state-federal programs for the cooperative enforcement of federal regulations designed to prevent oil spills from tank vessels.

Washington in 1994 in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska adopted state standards for crew training, language, staffing and drug testing of oil tanker crews.

California was joined in the "friend of the court" brief by the states of Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Utah.

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