Pacific Ocean Resources Compact

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Pacific Ocean Resources Compact
Member jurisdictions: 5
Issue(s): Natural resources management

The Pacific Ocean Resources Compact is an interstate compact among Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. The compact is intended to protect the marine and coastal resources of the member states.

Text of the compact

The legislature of each member state passes the laws with certain modifications, but the core of the legislation remains the same.

Article I: Findings and Purpose

A. The parties recognize:

  1. The States of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington and the Province of British Columbia have a common interest in the protection of marine and coastal resources. This common interest results from:
    • The fluid, dynamic ocean currents and atmospheric winds that carry pollutants beyond one party’s coastal area to another.
    • The migratory nature of many important living marine resources that depend upon the marine habitat of various parties for different parts of their lifecycle.
    • The economic reliance of each party upon renewable resources of the ocean.
    • The use of the ocean for transport of oil and other hazardous substances between ports in the various parties and other nations.
    • A regional interest in providing a stable environment for those communities dependent upon ocean resources and ocean trade for a livelihood.
  2. Some marine resource activities, such as fisheries, are currently highly managed with regard for their regional or transboundary nature through existing state programs, regional fisheries councils, interstate compacts and international treaties. Because there are existing formal mechanisms for interstate cooperation and coordination for these marine resource activities, this compact is not intended to encompass these activities or to grant to the Pacific Ocean Resources Compact authority to regulate resource allocation or management as it may pertain to the use and consumption of marine resources.
  3. A formal interstate agreement does not exist to address and resolve issues of mutual concern or to coordinate individual programs of the parties that affect regional interests in the areas of:
    • Prevention of oil and hazardous substance spills;
    • Transportation of oil and other hazardous substances;
    • Oil and hazardous substance spill response planning;
    • Environmental monitoring and research; and
    • Ocean resource management.
  4. Each party has jurisdiction over the submerged and submersible lands within its territorial sea and responsibility for management of many marine resources and ocean uses. Each party has unique natural resource, social, economic and political conditions for which local management by the individual party is the most appropriate.
  5. Parties now do not have an effective means to address mutual concerns related to transport of oil and hazardous substances in waters within and beyond the party’s jurisdiction that may jeopardize ocean resources and uses important to one or more coastal parties.
  6. The 1983 Presidential Proclamation of the 200-mile United States Exclusive Economic Zone has created the opportunity for all coastal states to more fully exercise and assert their responsibilities pertaining to the protection, conservation and development of ocean resources under United States jurisdiction.
  7. Citizens of the Pacific states and the Province of British Columbia are increasingly concerned with the environmental integrity of the ocean and protection of all ocean resources.
  8. Recent studies conducted in the wake of major accidental releases of oil or hazardous substances have concluded that the existing system of response to spills could be improved in the following ways to provide better protection of ocean resources:
    • Enhanced personnel training and qualifications;
    • Improved vessel design and integrity;
    • Better mechanisms for cost recovery by the states or the province;
    • Improved coordination in regulatory oversight;
    • Enhanced traffic management; and
    • An improved information base dealing with marine and coastal environments.
  9. A spill or discharge of oil or hazardous substance from an ocean-going vessel has the potential of causing major regional impacts.

B. Therefore, the purpose of this compact shall be:

  1. To assist in the promotion of interstate commerce by encouraging uniform regulation of the transportation of oil or hazardous substance within the compact zone.
  2. To provide a legal mechanism to regulate certain ocean activities within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone.
  3. To enhance regional coordination of issues of critical importance.
  4. To work with federal agencies to advance the best interest of the region.
  5. To foster regional cooperation and pooling of resources to reduce costs and increase effective use of scarce resources.
  6. To monitor activities of concern to the parties.
  7. To address issues of mutual concern to the Pacific states and the Province of British Columbia and enhance the parties’ influence over activities of concern that are not now addressed through existing compacts, including:
    • (a) Spill prevention;
    • (b) Transportation of oil and other hazardous substances;
    • (c) Spill response planning;
    • (d) Environmental monitoring and research; and
    • (e) Ocean resource management.
  8. To foster cooperation and coordination among the parties in order to increase the effectiveness of the individual party’s ocean laws and programs.
  9. To provide technical assistance to parties for ocean activities covered by this compact.
  10. To provide for formal participation by the Province of British Columbia with the compact to more fully address issues of regional concern.
  11. To insure that the citizens of the region have opportunities to participate in discussions and deliberations of regional ocean resources issues.
  12. To establish an innovative system under which the parties can represent their shared interests within the compact zone, including:
    • (a) The maintenance and protection of common ocean resources; and
    • (b) The vessel transportation of oil and other hazardous substances.
  13. To recommend uniform safety standards for routes, crews and equipment for vessels transporting oil and hazardous substances within the compact zone and monitor the implementation of these standards and regulations by federal agencies, states or provinces and private industry.
  14. To promote more coordinated management of ocean resources that are of mutual concern.
  15. To provide a forum for the regional coordination of the individual parties’ plans for the management and protection of those areas of the Pacific Ocean and adjacent waters over which the compacting parties jointly or separately now have or may acquire jurisdiction.

Article II: Definitions

As used in this compact:

  1. “Compact” means the representative body created by Article IV of this compact.
  2. “Compact zone” means the portion of the oceans bordering the parties within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
  3. “Hazardous substance” or “hazardous substances” means any element or compound that, when it enters in or upon the water, presents an imminent and substantial danger to the public health or welfare or the environment, including but not limited to fish, animals, vegetation or any part of the natural habitat in which they are found. “Hazardous substance” includes but is not limited to a substance designated under 33 U.S.C. §1321 (b)(2)(A), any element, compound, mixture, solution or substance designated under 42 U.S.C. §9602, any hazardous waste having characteristics identified under or listed under 42 U.S.C. §6921, any toxic pollutant listed under 33 U.S.C. §1317 (a) and any imminently hazardous chemical substance or mixture with respect to which the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency has taken action under 15 U.S.C. §2606.
  4. “Navigable waters” means the waters of the United States, including the territorial sea.
  5. “Oil” means crude petroleum oil and any other hydrocarbons regardless of gravity, which are produced at the well in liquid form by ordinary production methods, and any petroleum products or petrochemicals of any kind and in any form whether crude, refined or a petroleum by-product, including petroleum, fuel oil, gasoline, lubricating oils, oily sludge, oily refuse or mixed with other wastes, liquefied natural gas or propane.
  6. “Party” means a state or province that ratifies this compact as provided in Article III of this compact.
  7. “Representative” means an individual appointed as provided in Article IV of this compact to represent a party to the compact.
  8. “Vessel” means a watercraft or other artificial contrivance that is constructed or adapted to carry, or that carries oil or hazardous substance in bulk as cargo or cargo residue, and that:
    • (a) Operates on the navigable waters of the compact zone; or
    • (b) Transfers oil or hazardous substance in a place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

Article III: Operative Dates

  1. Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this Article, this compact shall become effective when two or more of the States of Alaska, California, Hawaii or Washington ratify the compact and the consent of Congress is or has been granted as required by section 10, Article I of the Constitution of the United States.
  2. This agreement shall become operative as to the Province of British Columbia as a full party upon request of the Province of British Columbia and approval of the Congress.

Article IV: Pacific Ocean Resources Compact

  1. The Pacific Ocean Resources Compact is created and shall have its offices within the territorial limits of one of the parties, shall carry out its duties and functions in accordance with this compact, shall continue in force and effect in accordance with this compact, and, except as specifically provided in this compact, shall not be considered an agency or instrumentality of the United States for the purpose of any federal law. Each party participating in this compact shall appoint two persons, subject to the applicable laws of the appointing party, to undertake the functions and duties of representatives of the compact. This compact shall be invested with the powers and duties set forth in this compact.
  2. The term of each representative shall be four years. A representative shall hold office until a successor is appointed and qualified but the successor’s term shall expire four years from legal date of expiration of the term of the predecessor. Vacancies occurring in the office of a representative for any reason or cause shall be filled for the unexpired term by the party represented by the vacancy. Any party may remove the representative for that party in accordance with the statutes of the party concerned. Each representative may delegate to a deputy the power to be present and participate, including voting as the representative or substitute, at any meeting of or hearing by or other proceeding of the compact.
  3. The compact shall invite the Secretary of Transportation, the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or their designees to participate as nonvoting members of the compact.

Article V: Pacific Ocean Resources Compact Authority

1. The Pacific Ocean Resources Compact is authorized to:

  • (a) Facilitate the prevention of oil and hazardous substance spills by:
  • (A) Serving as a West Coast Spill Prevention Advisory Committee to the United States Coast Guard. As such, the compact shall advise the United States Coast Guard on matters pertaining to spill prevention within the compact zone and also shall advise the United States Coast Guard on other matters within the compact’s authority as set forth in this compact.
  • (B) Participating as an interested person in any rulemaking proceeding by the United States Coast Guard related to the establishment of safety standards for routes, crews and equipment for vessels transporting oil and hazardous substances. The United States Coast Guard shall adopt the recommendations of the compact, unless the United States Coast Guard makes a finding, as part of the rulemaking process, that the adoption of such recommendations would not further the prevention of oil and hazardous substance spills.
  • (C) As an interested person, requesting the United States Coast Guard to initiate rulemaking for the establishment or amendment of safety standards for routes, crews and equipment for vessels transporting oil and hazardous substances. The United States Coast Guard shall initiate rulemaking as requested by the compact, unless the United States Coast Guard makes a finding that the initiation of such rulemaking would not further the prevention of oil and hazardous substance spills.
  • (D) Making recommendations to other appropriate state, federal and regional entities regarding uniform safety standards for routes, crews and equipment for vessels transporting oil and hazardous substances in the compact zone.
  • (b) Insure a coordinated network of oil and hazardous substance spill response plans and programs of the parties, federal agencies and private organizations.
  • (c) By regulation, establish the requirements for submission of and approval by the compact of a contingency plan by any vessel transporting oil or hazardous substance in the compact zone. Such requirements shall be consistent with the requirements for response plans under section 4202 of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-380). A plan developed in accordance with the regulations adopted by the compact and approved by the compact shall satisfy the requirements of section 4202 of the Oil Pollution Act and shall supersede any requirements of an individual party for submitting a vessel contingency or spill response plan. However, all plans approved by parties to this compact before the operative date of the compact shall remain in full force and effect until a contingency plan is approved by the compact pursuant to this paragraph. In establishing regulations under this paragraph, the compact shall work closely with officials of the parties to assure that the vessel contingency plans required under this compact include all subject areas included by the member parties, in the standards for vessel contingency plans of the parties, in aggregate, before the adoption of the compact.
  • (d) Establish and maintain an informational clearinghouse related to spill response, including a directory of personnel, equipment, technical expertise, organizations and other resources available to assist as part of a regional oil or hazardous substance spill response.
  • (e) Provide a forum for discussion and recommendation to resolve conflicts among member parties or the federal government regarding various ocean resources programs that have been or may be established by each party.
  • (f) Provide opportunities for public participation in compact activities by holding meetings of the compact in various locations within the territorial limits of the parties, providing opportunities for public comment at meetings and developing a public outreach program.
  • (g) Designate state or provincial agency officials to act on behalf of the compact as liaisons with federal agencies.
  • (h) Identify the regional data needs related to ocean resources and recommend a method for compiling the data in a format that can be shared by all parties.
  • (i) Consult with and advise any pertinent party or federal agency with regard to problems connected with ocean resources management and recommend the adoption of any rules or regulations the compact considers advisable that are within the jurisdiction of the agency.
  • (j) Establish sanctions and a schedule of civil penalties for violations of the rules or regulations of the compact and impose such sanctions or civil penalties in accordance with 5 U.S.C. §§551 to 559 and §§701 to 706.
  • (k) Request the United States Coast Guard to enforce or assist in the enforcement of any regulations adopted by the compact including but not limited to regulations related to the submission of a contingency plan or financial assurance requirements in the compact zone.
  • (l) Establish a schedule of reasonable fees to be assessed for the review of a contingency plan submitted under paragraph (c) of this subsection. The fees shall be sufficient to recover the costs of reviewing the plans and conducting any related inspections. The fees may be assessed in increments up to the maximum amount.

2. In addition to the authority granted under paragraph (1) of this Article, the compact may:

  • (a) Accept grants and gifts.
  • (b) Enter into contracts for whose performance the compact shall be solely responsible in order to support its operations.
  • (c) Conduct and prepare, independently or in cooperation with others, studies, investigations, research and programs relating to the purposes of this compact.
  • (d) Conduct public hearings on matters pertaining to the purposes of this compact.
  • (e) Establish a standardized cost recovery formula for damages to other resources based on the amount of oil or hazardous substance spilled.
  • (f) Enter into an agreement with the United States Coast Guard under which the compact will administer compliance with the requirements for demonstrating financial responsibility under section 1016 of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 in an amount established by the compact. Such proof of financial responsibility, if established by the compact, shall satisfy and supersede the requirement of any individual party for demonstrating financial responsibility. However, all financial responsibility requirements established by the parties to this compact before the compact establishes an amount under this paragraph shall remain in full force and effect until the compact establishes a requirement and enters into an agreement with the United States Coast Guard under this paragraph. In establishing the amount of financial responsibility under this paragraph, the compact shall work with officials of each party to assure that such requirements are sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the parties, in aggregate.
  • (g) In accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. §§551 to 559 and §§701-706, enforce the rules and regulations adopted by the compact to carry out the authority of the compact as set forth in this Article.
  • (h) Appoint technical and advisory committees for the purpose of advising the compact on regional ocean resources issues, data needs and format and other purposes related to the compact’s activities. A technical or advisory committee appointed by the compact shall not be subject to the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (P.L. 92-463, as amended).
  • (i) Allow a variance from the provisions of this compact or rules or regulations adopted by the compact pursuant to this Article. A variance shall be based on a showing by the person or entity seeking the variance that the activity allowed under the variance will have no regional impact and that the variance is economically necessary. Under no circumstances may a variance result in the regulation of the transportation of oil or hazardous substance according to standards less stringent than standards imposed under federal law.

3. The compact shall adopt all regulations necessary to carry out its duties and exercise its authority under this Article. The compact shall adopt such regulations in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. §§500 to 559.

Article VI: Pacific Ocean Resources Compact Organization

The compact shall select a chairperson and a vice chairperson. After the initial chairperson and vice chairperson are selected, the compact shall establish a rotation for the selection of the chairperson and vice chairperson so the office rotates through the parties to the compact. The compact shall appoint and at its pleasure remove or discharge such officers and employees as may be required to carry the provisions of this compact into effect and shall fix and determine their duties, qualifications and compensation. The compact shall adopt rules and regulations for the conduct of its business. It may establish and maintain one or more offices for the transaction of its business and may meet at any time or place within the territorial limits of the signatory parties but must meet at least once a year.

Article VII: Voting and Quorum

  1. A majority of the representatives shall constitute a quorum.
  2. Each representative shall be entitled to one vote. No action or decision of the compact shall be approved unless the action or decision receives a majority of the votes of the representatives, including at least one affirmative vote from each party.

Article VIII: Support Agencies

The compact may contract for the staff support necessary to carry out the purposes of this compact or request appropriate agencies of the signatory parties to act as the research agencies of the compact.

Article IX: Parties' Powers Under Compact

Except as specifically provided in Article V of this compact, nothing in this compact shall be construed to limit the powers of any party or to repeal or prevent the enactment of any legislation or the enforcement of any requirement imposing additional conditions and restrictions to conserve ocean resources.

Article X: Absence

Continued absence of representation or of any compact representative from any party shall be brought to the attention of the appointing authority of the party not represented.

Article XI: Funding

  1. Each party shall contribute to the support of the compact.
  2. The annual contribution of each party shall be figured to the nearest $100.
  3. The compact shall prepare an annual budget which shall be approved by vote of the compact. After approval, the proposed budget shall be presented to the chief executive and legislative body of the signatory parties.
  4. Each party shall be responsible for the expenses of its own representatives.

Article XII: Withdrawal from Compact

This compact shall continue in force and remain binding upon each party until renounced by it. Renunciation of this compact must be preceded by sending six months’ notice in writing of intention to withdraw from the compact to the other parties to the compact.

See also

External links

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