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United States v. Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maine

July 7, 2016

United States of America and State of Maine, Plaintiffs,
v.
Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Texaco Inc., Chevron Environmental Management Company, Cumberland Farms, Inc., and Gulf Oil Limited Partnership, Defendants.

          CONSENT DECREE

          D. BROCK HORNBY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. The United States of America ("United States"), by the Attorney General, on behalf of the United States Department of the Interior ("DOI") and the United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA"), and the State of Maine, on behalf of the Department of Environmental Protection ("DEP"), Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry ("DACF"), Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife ("DIFW") and Department of Marine Resources ("DMR") (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), have filed a Complaint against Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Texaco Inc., Chevron Environmental Management Co., Cumberland Farms, Inc., and Gulf Oil Limited Partnership in this Court.

         B. Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants are liable to the United States and the State under Section 1002(a) and (b) of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 ("OPA"), 33 U.S.C. § 2702 (a) and (b), and to the State under the Maine Oil Discharge Prevention and Pollution Control Law ("Oil Law"), 38 M.R.S. § 552(2), for damages for injury to, destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of, Natural Resources, including the reasonable cost of assessing the damages, resulting from discharges of oil that occurred starting at least as early as the 1970s at the former Chevron and Texaco marine oil terminal facilities located, respectively, at 799 and 809 Main Road North in Hampden, Maine (the "Oil Discharges").

         C. The State of Maine ("State" or "Maine") is a Co-Plaintiff and has joined the Complaint on behalf of the DEP, DACF, DIFW and DMR against the Defendants in this Court alleging that the Defendants are liable to the State under Section 1002(a) and (b) of OPA, 33 U.S.C. § 2702 (a) and (b), and Section 38 M.R.S. § 552(2) of the Oil Law, for damages for injury to, destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of, Natural Resources, including the reasonable costs of assessing the damages, and the costs of preparing and implementing a natural resources restoration plan, resulting from the Oil Discharges. On September 5, 2012, Maine Governor Paul R. LePage designated the Commissioner of the DEP as the lead trustee to act on behalf of the public for natural resources of the State, and designated DACF, DIFW, and DMR as co-trustees with the DEP for such resources.

         D. The Complaint alleges that: (1) the Oil Discharges caused injury to, destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of, Natural Resources belonging to, managed by, held in trust by, appertaining to, or otherwise controlled by the United States and the State, or other Natural Resources for which the State may seek damages pursuant to the Oil Law; and (2) the United States and the State have incurred costs in assessing the nature and extent of these injuries.

         E. The United States and the State share trusteeship of the Natural Resources alleged in the Complaint to be injured and are coordinating assessment and restoration efforts.

         F. The Parties agree, and this Court finds, that settlement of this matter without further litigation is in the public interest and that the entry of this Consent Decree is the most appropriate means of resolving the claims alleged in Plaintiffs' Complaint.

         G. The Parties agree and this Court, by entering this Consent Decree, finds that: (1) this Consent Decree has been negotiated by the Parties in good faith; (2) settlement of this matter will avoid prolonged and complicated litigation; and (3) this Consent Decree is fair, reasonable, and consistent with the goals of the applicable statutes.

         H. The Defendants do not admit any liability arising out of the transactions or occurrences alleged in this action.

         NOW, THEREFORE it is Adjudged, Ordered and Decreed:

         II. JURISDICTION

         1. The Parties agree and this Court concludes that it has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action pursuant to Section 1017(b) of OPA, 33 U.S.C. § 2717(b), and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345. Venue lies in this District pursuant to Section 1017(b) of OPA, 33 U.S.C. § 2717(b), and 28 U.S.C. 1391(b). This Court has pendent jurisdiction over the state law claims. This Court has, and the Defendants consent to, the Court's personal jurisdiction over them in connection with this action. Solely for the purposes of this Consent Decree and the underlying Complaint, the Defendants waive all objections and defenses that they may have to jurisdiction of the Court or to venue in this District. Defendants shall not challenge this Court's jurisdiction to enter and enforce this Consent Decree.

         III. PARTIES BOUND

         2. This Consent Decree applies to and is binding upon: the United States, on behalf of DOI and NOAA, as designated federal trustees for Natural Resources, including those Natural Resources at, in the vicinity of, or affected by the Oil Discharges; the State, on behalf of the DEP, DACF, DIFW and DMR, as designated state trustees for Natural Resources, including those Natural Resources at, in the vicinity of, or affected by the Oil Discharges; and, the Defendants, including, without limitation, their successors and assigns, or other entities or persons otherwise bound by law. Any change in ownership or corporate status of the Defendants including, but not limited to, any transfer of assets or real or personal property, shall in no way alter the Defendants' or their successors' and assigns' rights or responsibilities under this Consent Decree. In any action to enforce this Consent Decree, the Defendants shall not raise as a defense the failure by any of their officers, directors, employees, agents, or contractors to take any actions necessary to comply with the provisions of this Consent Decree.

         IV. DEFINITIONS

         3. Unless otherwise expressly provided herein, terms used in this Consent Decree which are defined in OPA or in the regulations promulgated by NOAA under OPA, 15 C.F.R. Part 990, shall have the meaning assigned to them in OPA or in such regulations, as applicable. Whenever the following terms are used in this Consent Decree or in the appendices attached hereto and incorporated hereunder, the definition specified hereinafter shall apply.

a. "Consent Decree" shall mean this Decree and appendices attached hereto. In the event of a conflict between this Consent Decree and any appendix, this Consent Decree shall control.
b. "Costs of Assessment" shall mean all costs within the meaning of Sections 1002(b)(2)(A) and 1006(d)(1)(C) of OPA, 33 U.S.C. §§ 2702(b)(2)(A), 2706 (d)(1)(C), and all costs of assessing natural resources damage which may be sought under Section 552(2) of the Oil Law, incurred by the Trustees on or before the date of lodging, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, and administrative costs in assessing the alleged injury to, destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of, all Natural Resources at or in connection with the Oil Discharges and/or directly or indirectly related to negotiating this Consent Decree, and all Trustee costs of approving this Consent Decree.
c. "Day" shall mean a calendar day. In computing any period of time under this Consent Decree, where the last day would fall on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, the period shall run until the close of business of the next working day.
d. "Defendants" shall mean Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Texaco Inc., Chevron Environmental Management Company, Cumberland Farms, Inc., and Gulf Oil Limited Partnership and their successors and assigns.
e. "DOI" shall mean the United States Department of the Interior.
f. "Fund" shall mean the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund established pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §§ 4611 and 9509.
g. "Hampden, Maine Marine Oil Terminal Restoration Account" shall mean a project numbered account to be established within DOI's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Fund ("DOI NRDAR Fund"), which will be funded by the Defendants in accordance with Section V (Payments by Defendants) of this Consent Decree and jointly administered by the Trustees in accordance with Section VII (Hampden, Maine Marine Oil Terminal Restoration Account) of this Consent Decree and a separate agreement among the Trustees.
h. "Interest, " as that term is used in Section VI (Stipulated Penalties) of this Consent Decree, shall mean interest calculated in the manner specified in Section 1005(b)(4) of OPA, 33 U.S.C. § 2705(b)(4).
i. "Natural Resources" shall have the meaning provided in Section 1001(20) of OPA, 33 U.S.C. § 2701(20), and shall also include any natural resources for which the State may seek damages pursuant to 38 M.R.S. § 552(2).
j. "Natural Resource Damages" shall mean the damages described at Section 1002(b)(2)(A) of OPA, 33 U.S.C. § 2702(b)(2)(A), and at Section 552(2) of the Oil Law.
k. "NOAA" shall mean the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
l. "Oil Discharges" shall mean all of the discharges of oil into or upon the land, tidal flats, groundwater, and Penobscot River that have occurred at and from the marine oil terminal facilities located at 799 Main Road North and 809 Main Road North in Hampden, Maine, starting at least as early as the 1970s and continuing through the Effective Date.
m. "OPA" shall mean the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-380, 104 Stat. 484, 33 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2761.
n. "Parties" shall mean the Plaintiffs and the Defendants.
o. "Plaintiffs" shall mean the United States and the State of Maine.
p. "Restoration Plan(s)" shall mean a plan or plans developed by the Trustees in accordance with OPA and its underlying regulations at 15 C.F.R. ...

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