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Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Evans

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20071
Nos. No. C75-648M, 9 ERC 1876/(D. Wash., 09/23/1976)

A three-judge district court declares the state of Washington's Tanker Law, which regulates oil tanker navigation in Puget Sound, to be preempted by the federal Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA). The court initially declines to hold that the Eleventh Amendment confers sovereign immunity on the state in this instance. The PWSA establishes a comprehensive federal scheme for regulating the operations and design specifications of tankers that foreclose balkanized regulatory authority over these matters. Similarly, the state law's requirement of tugboat escorts is preempted by the Coast Guard's authority to require tugboat escorts in Puget Sound in the event of hazardous conditions. Also, the state statute's prohibition of tanker navigation of Puget Sound without a local pilot conflicts with the PWSA. The state incorrectly argues that its law is part of a congressional-encouraged coastal zone management plan, because such plans are authorized by statutes which, unlike the PWSA, encourage a scheme of cooperative federalism. Finally, Commerce Department approval of the state's coastal plan has no bearing on the PWSA's preemptive effect.

For moving papers in this case, see ELR 65297.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Richard E. Sherwood
O'Melveny & Myers
611 W. Sixth St.
Los Angeles CA 90017
(213) 620-1120

David E. Wagoner
Perkins, Coie, Stone, Olson & Williams
1900 Washington Bldg.
Seattle WA 98101
(206) 682-8770

Counsel for Defendant
Slade Gorton, Attorney General
Charles B. Roe, Jr., Senior Asst. Attorney General
Charles F. Murphy, Asst. Attorney General
Robert E. Mack, Asst. Attorney General
Temple of Justice
Olympia WA 98504
(206) 753-2354

Counsel for Intervenors
Coalition Against Oil Pollution,
National Wildlife Federation,
Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Inc.
Thomas H. S. Brucker
Durning, Smith & Brucker
1411 4th Ave. Bldg.
Seattle WA 98101
(206) 624-8901

Eldon V. C. Greenberg
Richard A. Frank
Center for Law and Social Policy
1751 N St., NW
Washington DC 20036
(202) 872-0670

Goodwin, C.J., McGovern & East, JJ.