Lake Carriers' Assn. v. MacMullan

PETITIONER: Lake Carriers' Assn.
LOCATION: Georgia State Capitol

DOCKET NO.: 71-422
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 406 US 498 (1972)
ARGUED: Mar 22, 1972 / Mar 23, 1972
DECIDED: May 30, 1972

Robert A. Derengoski - for appellees
Scott H. Elder - for appellants

Facts of the case


Media for Lake Carriers' Assn. v. MacMullan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 22, 1972 in Lake Carriers' Assn. v. MacMullan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 23, 1972 in Lake Carriers' Assn. v. MacMullan

Warren E. Burger:

We will resume arguments in number 71-422, Lake Carriers Association against MacMullan.

Mr. Solicitor General you may proceed.

Robert A. Derengoski:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The Water Resources Act of 1966 and the Water Quality Act of 1970 prescribed to be the national policy that the environment of this country including its waters be cleaned up.

In each of these statutes, they have placed upon the states the primary responsibility for implementing that policy.

In view in Michigan in the case of the sewage disposal from vessels has enacted a statute which is the ultimate in that area mainly complete retention of sewage and dispose off the (Inaudible) and therefore, I am somewhat surprised at being here.

In response to the question of Mr. Justice White at the conclusion of yesterday’s session, I say that the only controversy now existing between the parties in this cause is the question of how this should be accomplished.

Michigan says by complete retention and they say, no.

In addition, they attacked the statute on numerous constitutional grounds.

There is no prosecution pending or eminent at this time.

We realized sir the futility of a prosecution at this time with inadequate shore size pump-out facilities.

But we are working on that and we are making headway until this litigation was commenced.

We realized they must have facilities to pump-out before the law could be properly applied.

That is the only controversy.

Now, I might go a little further and say insofar as the controversy goes, there is a controversy between the parties in this cause as to what constitutes pollution or clean water.

The appellants in this cause evidently say that by the use of certain devices on their vessels by which they can pull -- if I may use the contradictory term clean soil into wide waters.

They are aiding and abetting in fulfilling the federal requirements that pollution of our waters be controlled.

Michigan says otherwise, we say in effect “thou shalt not dump.”

Now, putting in its proper perspective, may it please the Court, the devices which these plaintiffs claim will range in their waste less obnoxious to the waters of the State of Michigan.

I would like to point out that the record shows that at the 187 vessels possessed by these appellants, only some 50 have a device of any kind.

In other words, about 15%.

In other words, you have about 85% of your vessels pouring raw, untreated sewage into the waters of the Great Lakes.

Projecting that to the entire Great Lakes fleet of some 422 vessels.

The extent of their deprivation is horrendous to be hold.

It is a special problem in Michigan.

We are surrounded on three sides as the Court knows by waters of the Great Lakes with the longest shoreline in this country except for Alaska.

The bulk of Michigan people take their drinking water from the Great Lakes.

For example, in Detroit and its suburbs, 3,750,000 people, that was the figure in 1970, take their drinking water from the Detroit River which is one of the bodies of water involved in this litigation.

So this seriousness of the situation and the necessity for a total retention requirement by Michigan is also obvious.

May it please the Court, probably for the first time in my professional career I was pleased to receive a reply brief for in this brief filed by the appellants, I believe the verity of our cause is proved.