Am. Waterways Operators v. U.S. Coast Guard

Decision Date22 January 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 18-cv-12070-DJC
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts


I. Introduction

Plaintiff American Waterways Operators ("AWO") has filed this lawsuit against Defendants the United States Coast Guard (the "Coast Guard") seeking relief under the Mandamus Act and All Writs Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1361; 5 U.S.C. § 706(a). D. 1. AWO has moved for summary judgment, D. 31, and the Coast Guard has cross-moved for summary judgment. D. 37. Intervenors the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (the "Commonwealth") and Buzzards Bay Coalition have filed memoranda opposing AWO's motion for summary judgment and supporting the Coast Guard's cross-motion for summary judgment. D. 52; D. 53. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES AWO's motion, D. 31, and ALLOWS the Coast Guard's motion, D. 37.

II. Standard of Review

The Court grants summary judgment where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the undisputed facts demonstrate that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "A fact is material if it carries with it the potential to affect the outcome of the suit under applicable law." Santiago-Ramos v. Centennial P.R. Wireless Corp., 217 F.3d 46, 52 (1st Cir. 2000). The movant bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Carmona v. Toledo, 215 F.3d 124, 132 (1st Cir. 2000); see Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the movant meets its burden, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations or denials in its pleadings, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986), but must come forward with specific admissible facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Borges ex rel. S.M.B.W. v. Serrano-Isern, 605 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2010). The Court "view[s] the record in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing reasonable inferences in his favor." Noonan v. Staples, Inc., 556 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2009).

III. Factual Background

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed. AWO is the national trade association of the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry. D. 31-2 ¶ 1.1 AWO's members operate in the waters of Massachusetts and are, therefore, subject to both Massachusetts and federal law. D. 31-2 ¶ 1. The Coast Guard is a military and maritime service and an agency of the United States. D. 31-2 ¶ 4. In August 2004, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted the Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention Act ("MOSPA"). D. 31-2 ¶ 5; D. 37-2 ¶ 5; see Mass. Gen. L.c. 21, §§ 42, 50B-50E; c. 21M §§ 1-8; c. 103 §§ 21, 28. MOSPA placed various requirements on tugboats and tank vessels operating in Massachusetts state waters, D. 31-2 ¶ 6; D. 37-2 ¶¶ 5-7, including the requirement that remains at the core of the present dispute—that tugboats must escort certain barges through Buzzards Bay (the "Tugboat Escort Requirement"), see D. 37-2 ¶5 5; D. 50-1 ¶ 108.

A. 2005-2008 Litigation

In 2005, the Coast Guard sued the Commonwealth in this Court seeking to enjoin certain provisions of MOSPA as preempted by federal law (the "Coast Guard's Suit"). D. 31-2 ¶¶ 10-11; D. 37-2 ¶ 8. AWO intervened as an intervenor-plaintiff in the Coast Guard's Suit. D. 31-2 ¶ 12; D. 37-2 ¶ 8. This Court (Tauro, J.) held that seven challenged provisions of MOSPA were "preempted, invalid, and unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution" and permanently enjoined the Commonwealth from enforcing the provisions. United States v. Massachusetts, 440 F. Supp. 2d 24, 48 (D. Mass. 2006). The Commonwealth appealed as to three of the seven provisions: (1) the financial assurance requirements, Mass. Gen. L. c. 21, § 50C, (2) the manning requirement for single-hulled vessels, Mass. Gen. L. c. 21M, § 4, and (3) the tugboat escort requirements, Mass. Gen. L. c. 21M, § 6. D. 37-2 ¶ 10; D. 50-1 ¶ 86. The First Circuit vacated the district court's decision and remanded to the district court for proceedings consistent with its ruling. See United States v. Massachusetts, 493 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 2007). Specifically, the First Circuit held that the district court erred in (1) failing to conduct an overlap analysis for the manning requirement, id. at 13-14, (2) failing to adequately consider a 2006 Coast Guard statement regarding the tugboat escort provision, id. at 19, and (3) failing to develop the record regarding the financial assurance requirement, id. at 20-25. On remand, the First Circuit directed the district court to conduct an overlap analysis, consider whether the CoastGuard's 2006 statement expressed a clear intent to preempt the tugboat escort provision (and, if so, whether that was consistent with congressional intent) and further develop the record on the effect of the financial assurance requirement. See id. at 13-14, 19, 20-25.

In 2007, after the First Circuit's remand, the Coast Guard published the Regulated Navigation Area; Buzzards Bay, MA; Navigable Waterways Within the First Coast Guard District (the "2007 RNA"). D. 31-2 ¶ 18; D. 37-2 ¶ 18; see Regulated Navigation Area; Buzzards Bay, MA; Navigable Waterways within the First Coast Guard District, 72 Fed. Reg. 50,052-02 (Aug. 30, 2007). The 2007 RNA expressed an intent to preempt MOSPA's tugboat escort provisions and manning requirement for single-hulled vessels. D. 31-2 ¶ 18-19; D. 37-2 ¶ 18. After publication of the 2007 RNA, the Commonwealth amended its counterclaims to allege that the Coast Guard's statement of preemption in the 2007 RNA was invalid for failing to prepare an Environmental Analysis or an Environmental Impact Statement in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"). D. 37-2 ¶ 22. The parties resolved their differences regarding the financial assurance requirements, D. 37-2 ¶ 20, so the district court's review on remand was limited to the manning requirement for single-hulled vessels and the tugboat escort requirement, D. 31-2 ¶ 20; D. 37-2 ¶ 24.

In March 2010, this Court (Woodlock, J.), on summary judgment, adopted the report and recommendation of the magistrate judge (Sorokin, J.) and ruled in favor of the Coast Guard and permanently enjoined enforcement of the two remaining provisions on the grounds that they were preempted by the 2007 RNA. United States v. Massachusetts, 724 F. Supp. 2d 170, 174-75 (D. Mass. 2010). In its ruling, the Court concluded that although the Coast Guard violated the NEPA in promulgating the 2007 RNA, this error was harmless because "the substance of the Coast Guard's actual rulemaking analysis was the functional equivalent of what an environmental impactstatement would have generated." Id. at 175. After this ruling, in April 2010, AWO, along with several other plaintiffs, sued the Commonwealth in a separate suit ("AWO's Suit") to permanently enjoin the enforcement of certain provisions of MOSPA. See Am. Waterways Operators. v. Patrick, Civ. A. No. 10-cv-10584-DPW (D. Mass. 2010), D. 1.

B. The First Circuit's Directive

The Commonwealth and supporting intervenors appealed this second decision invalidating MOSPA to the First Circuit. D. 31-2 ¶ 22; D. 37-2 ¶ 25. In 2011, the First Circuit reversed summary judgment in the Coast Guard's favor, vacated the injunction and remanded to district court with instruction to remand it to the Coast Guard. See United States v. Coal. for Buzzards Bay, 644 F.3d 26, 39 (1st Cir. 2011). The First Circuit held that the Coast Guard did not comply with the NEPA by failing to analyze the environmental impact on its proposed action and "return[ed] the case to district court with instruction to remand it to the Coast Guard for further proceedings consistent with this opinion." Id. The First Circuit took "no view of the overarching preemption issue, the applicability vel non of any other extraordinary circumstances exception, the APA issue, or any of the parties' other contentions." Id.

In 2011, following the First Circuit's order, this Court (Woodlock, J.) closed the case "without prejudice to the right of any party to restore it to the active docket upon termination of the remand proceedings by filing an appropriate motion." United States v. Massachusetts, Civ. A. No. 05-cv-10112-DPW (D. Mass. 2011), D. 187. The parties in AWO's Suit proposed the same closing and the Court ordered the case closed during the duration of remand for the Coast Guard's case challenging MOSPA. See Am. Waterways Operators. v. Patrick, 10-cv-10584-DPW (D. Mass. 2011), D. 50.

C. The Coast Guard's Environmental Impact Review

In 2012, the Coast Guard released a Notice of a Draft Environmental Assessment ("Draft EA") and contracted for a "Buzzards Bay Risk Assessment." D. 31-2 ¶¶ 32-37. The Buzzards Bay Risk Assessment was released on November 20, 2012 and revised on January 22, 2013. D. 31-2 ¶ 37. The Coast Guard prepared a Final Environmental Assessment ("Final EA"), dated December 2013, and published notice of the Finding of No Significant Impact ("FONSI") based on the Final EA on February 26, 2014. D. 31-2 ¶¶ 42-43; D. 37-2 ¶ 27.

D. The Coast Guard Decides Not to Pursue Litigation

In August 2014, AWO, as an Intervenor-Plaintiff, and the Coast Guard moved to restore the case to active docket. D. 31-2 ¶¶ 47-49; D. 37-2 ¶ 28-29. The Commonwealth opposed. D. 31-2 ¶¶ 50; D. 37-2 ¶¶ 30-31. Because single-hull tank vessels were largely phased out on January 1, 2015, the dispute over MOSPA's manning requirements for single-hulled vessels became moot on that date. D. 36-1 ¶ 32; D. 50-1 ¶ 108. The only MOSPA provision remaining in dispute, therefore, was the tugboat escort requirement. D. 36-1 ¶ 33; D. 50-1 ¶ 109. On January 15, 2015, this Court (Woodlock, J.) held a hearing to determine whether to reopen the case. United States v. Massachusetts, No. 05-10112-DPW (D. Mass. Jan 27, 2015), D. 201. After the hearing, on ...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT