State regulation of oil tankers sought

A senator from Washington has introduced legislation to allow states to enhance federal regulations of oil tankers operating off their coastlines.

In the wake of the US Supreme Court�s ruling against state regulation of oil tankers, a senator from Washington has introduced a bill allowing states to enforce their own standards.

Sen. Slade Gordon (R-Wash.) wants to amend the Oil and Pollution Act of 1990 to allow states to add regulations regarding the maintenance, operation, equipping, personnel qualifications and manning of oil tankers.

Washington state's effort to require tougher-than-federal standards was rejected two months ago.

The Supreme Court ruled March 6 (US vs. Locke) against Washington state�s stringent rules on training, location plotting, pre-arrival tests, and drug testing of tanker crews.

The Court said federal laws, enforced by the US Coast Guard, take precedence in determining safety standards for oil tankers -- and that states cannot preempt these laws.

Gorton admitted last week that his �States Prevention of Oil Tanker Spills Act� won't eliminate oil spills. "I believe, however,� Gorton said, �that it will help to prevent some.�

�Laws protecting our shores from dangerous oil spills should not be brought to the lowest common denominator,� Gorton said. �Rather, allowing states to enhance federal laws will ensure an even greater level of protection for our citizens and resources in the future."

Rep. Jack Metcalf (R-Wash.) was expected to introduce similar legislation in the House.

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