CHEVRON U.S.A., INC. v. SHEFFIELD - 471 U.S. 1140 (1985)


U.S. Supreme Court

CHEVRON U.S.A., INC. v. SHEFFIELD , 471 U.S. 1140 (1985)

471 U.S. 1140

CHEVRON U.S.A., INC., et al. v. William J. SHEFFIELD, Governor of Alaska, et al
No. 84-634 Supreme Court of the United States June 3, 1985

On Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Opinion of Justice STEVENS respecting the denial of the petition for writ of certiorari.

Reasonable Justices can certainly differ on whether certiorari should be granted in this case. Justice WHITE, in dissent, has explained why he favors a grant of the petition for writ of certiorari. There is, of course, no reason why that dissent should identify the reasons supporting a denial of the petition. Matters such as the fact that apparently only one 26-year-old vessel may be affected by the Ninth Circuit's ruling,1 that apparently no other State has enacted a deballasting prohibition similar to Alaska's, and that the Coast Guard retains the power to modify its regulations relating to deballasting lend support to the Court's discretionary determination that review in this Court is not necessary even if the Court of Appeals' decision is arguably incorrect. I add these few words only because of my concern that unanswered dissents from denial of certiorari sometimes lead the uninformed reader to conclude that the Court is not managing its discretionary docket in a responsible manner. See Singleton v. Commissioner, 439 U.S. 940, 942, 945, 337, 338 (1978) (opinion of STEVENS, J., respecting the denial of the petition for writ of certiorari).2

Justice WHITE, dissenting.

In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the State of Alaska's Tanker Act, former Alaska Stat.Ann . 46.03.750(e) (Supp.1977), amended in 1980 and cur-

Page 471 U.S. 1140 , 1141

rently Alaska Stat.Ann. 46.03.750(a), (b) (1982), which restricts deballasting by oil tankers in Alaskan waters, was not preempted by regulations promulgated by the Coast Guard under Title II of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 (PWSA).1 Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Hammond, 726 F.2d 483 (1984). I believe that in so holding, the court arguably " decided a federal question in a way in conflict with applicable decisions of this Court." This Court's Rule 17.1(c). Accordingly, I would grant certiorari to review the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

In Ray v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 435 U.S. 151d 179 (1978), we held that federal regulations governing oil tanker design and construction promulgated under Title II of the PWSA preempt more stringent state regulations covering the same subject matter. Our holding was based in large part on our conclusion that Title II was intended to authorize comprehensive standards "[t]o implement the twin goals of providing for vessel safety and protecting the marine environment ." Id., at 161. Under the statute, we observed, "the Secretary [of Transportation] must issue all design and construction regulations that he deems necessary for these ends, after considering the specified statutory standards." Id., at 165. When a State has imposed a more stringent standard than the Secretary but the state and federal standards "ai[m] at precisely the same ends," we concluded, "[t]he Supremacy Clause dictates that the federal judgment . . . prevail over the contrary state judgment." Ibid.

As the court below pointed out, Ray dealt with federal standards for tanker design and construction, whereas this case involves standards governing tanker operations-specifically, standards governing the discharge of seawater loaded into cargo compartments and used as ballast. [Footnote 2] The need for national uniformity in the area of standards for tanker operations, the court concluded, is not so great as the need for uniformity in standards governing [471 U.S. 1140 , 1142]




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