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Boyes v. Shell Oil Prods. Co.

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20268
Nos. No. 98-3692, 199 F.3d 1260/49 ERC 2025/(11th Cir., 01/04/2000)

The court holds that a district court abused its discretion by abstaining from hearing property owner's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) claims against two petroleum companies. The court first holds that Florida's underground storage tank (UST) program is preempted to the extent there is a conflict. RCRA provides that a state can operate its own UST program in lieu of federal regulation, provided it obtains explicit approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Because Florida's regulation has not been approved under RCRA, it cannot supplant or replace federal law. The court next holds that the Florida UST program conflicts with federal law. The state program at issue interferes with the purposes and objectives of RCRA by preventing the property owners from seeking remediation of the alleged contamination. Because RCRA preempts the state program, the court holds that abstention under the Buford and the primary jurisdiction doctrines is inappropriate and the property owners may bring their RCRA claims for remediation in federal court.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Thomas Reese
Law Offices of Thomas Reese
2951 61st Ave. S., St. Petersburg FL 33712
(727) 867-8228

Counsel for Defendants
Jan A. Albanese
Allen, Lang, Curotto & Peed
14 E. Washington St., Ste. 600, Orlando FL 32802
(407) 422-8250

Before Roney and Hill, JJ.