Saving Life and Property Act of 4 August 1949 14 USC 88

Complete revision of Coast Guard authorities. Authorizes the Coast Guard, in the broadest possible terms without limitation as to method or place, to save lives and property.

The language, ''to perform any and all acts necessary to rescue and aid persons and protect and save property'' is broad enough to encompass salvage questions.

However, the Coast Guard has consistently maintained that it is not in the salvage business. The Coast Guard does not have any substantial salvage capability in the sense of conducting a major offshore salvage operation. The Coast Guard's emergency response capability is largely in the area of search and rescue (saving of life) and marine environmental protection (oil spill response). Related to these are their major activities in safety of navigation, and responsibilities under the National Contingency Plan for overseeing marine emergency response.

Clean Water Act (33 USC 1251 et seq.), including Sec 1321 "Oil and Hazardous Substance Liability"

Establishes U.S. policy that there shall be no discharges of oil or hazardous substances in waters under U.S. jurisdiction (including the Fisheries Conservation Zone (200 miles)), and authorizes executive actions to that end.

Authority extends throughout 200-mile zone. Provides basic operating authority for Coast Guard's marine environmental protection activities and for the National Contingency Plan

President authorized to direct all public and private efforts to prevent marine pollution whenever a marine disaster has created a substantial threat of a pollution hazard. Efforts may include removal or destruction of the vessel posing the threat.

President authorized to clean up spills, unless, pursuant to the National Contingency Plan, the owner or operator is taking proper action.

The difference between the two authorities noted above is that the President does not have to take account of the owner or operator's actions if there has been a maritime disaster.

Intervention on the High Seas Act

5 February 1974

33 USC 1471-1487

Incorporates into U.S. law the international convention relating to intervention on the high seas in case of oil pollution casualties.

Authorizes the Coast Guard to take whatever measures are necessary to prevent or eliminate danger to the coastline of the United States from pollution from a marine casualty on the high seas.

Range of possible actions includes removal or destruction of the ship or cargo that is the source of the danger.

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