Document Type

Case Note


In The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) v. Locke, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a number of Washington State's Best Achievable Protection (BAP) Regulations governing oil tankers operating in Washington State waters. The court upheld the State's regulations against a tanker operator's organization challenge that federal law, Coast Guardregulations, and international treaties preempted the state regulations. The precedent-setting decision establishes that the federal regulation of oil tankers, and tanker regulations set forth in international treaties, in most instances, merely establish minimum standards that states may surpass in the interest of protecting their marine and shoreline resources. The holding of the Ninth Circuit is critical to the nature of future state environmental legislation as it provides insight into the power that states may find in savings clauses of federal statutes when fashioning environmental regulations. This Note briefly surveys past and present tanker regulation, and analyzes the court's rationale in upholding the Washington tanker regulations. The influence of the savings clause in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 will be established, and the power derived from it identified for future use by state governments. The court's characterization of the issue before it will be examined, and its significance in upholding Washington's regulations will be demonstrated. Finally, this Note considers the effect of the court's decision establishing that international environmental regulations merely set minimum standards that may be surpassed by state legislation.



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