Attorney General Martha Coakley is continuing a legal battle on behalf of a state law that was intended to protect Massachusetts waters and coastline after a 2003 oil spill in Buzzards Bay.
Coakley's office filed an appeal today in the First US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston of a lower court ruling that upheld Coast Guard regulations affecting vessels in Buzzards Bay. The state believes the Coast Guard regulations aren't tough enough.
"The disastrous spill in the Gulf of Mexico and recent news that oil from an earlier 1969 spill in Buzzards Bay continues to plague our coastline have again highlighted the tragic and lasting consequences of oil spills," Coakley said in a statement. "The Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention Act includes common sense measures to prevent spills from occurring in the first place."
The law was enacted in 2004 after the April 2003 spill of approximately 98,000 gallons of oil into Buzzards Bay. The law called for all tank barges, whether single- or double-hulled, to have a tug boat escort when traveling through the bay. It also called for additional crew and lookouts on vessels towing tank barges.
The Coast Guard regulations require tug escorts only for single-hulled vessels. Since federal law already calls for phasing out single-hulled tank barges by 2015, all tank barges carrying oil through Buzzards will soon be unescorted, Coakley's office said.
The Coast Guard regulations also do not require the additional crew and lookouts, Coakley's office said.
The Coast Guard's Boston office didn't immediately have a comment.
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