SeaRiver Maritime, Exxon Oil Company’s United States shipping subsidiary, recently challenged section 5007 of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 as a bill of attainder. SeaRiver Maritime is the owner and operator of the former Exxon Valdez, which was renamed the SeaRiver Mediterranean following the Valdez’s infamous spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. SeaRiver Maritime argued that section 5007, which prohibits any vessel that has spilled more than one million gallons of oil into the marine environment from ever re-entering Prince William Sound, is an unconstitutional legislative punishment, and that this portion of the Oil Pollution Act was meant to apply only to the SeaRiver Mediterranean. This Comment examines the Oil Pollution Act’s primary provisions and the Act’s Prince William Sound provisions, which include section 5007. Further, this Comment explains the reasons for the constitutional prohibition on bills of attainder and the modern analysis to which courts subject legislation challenged under the Bill of Attainder Clause. Finally, this Comment argues that SeaRiver Maritime’s claim fails both prongs of the Supreme Court’s bill of attainder analysis and that section 5007 is legal and valid as enacted.
Alison C. Carrigan,
The Bill of Attainder Clause: A New Weapon to Challenge the Oil Pollution Act of 1990,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.