U.S. Coast Guard: State Enforcement of Inland Navigation Rules

The Coast Guard is issuing this interim rule to remove an incorrect statement about field preemption of State or local regulations regarding inland navigation. The incorrect language was added in a 2014 rulemaking, and the error was recently discovered. By removing the language, this rule clarifies the ability of States to regulate inland navigation as they have historically done. This rule does not require States to take any action.

This interim rule is effective September 6, 2022. Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard on or before December 5, 2022.

You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2022-0071 using the Federal Decision Making Portal at https://www.regulations.gov. See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for further instructions on submitting comments.

Section 303 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004,[1] “Inland Navigation Rules Promulgation Authority,” authorizes the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating to issue inland navigation regulations and technical annexes for all vessels on the inland waters of the United States. The goal of such regulations is to be as consistent as possible with the corresponding International Regulations. The Secretary delegated this authority to the Coast Guard in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Delegation 00170.1, Revision No. 01.2, paragraph (II)(92). The purpose of this interim rule is to correct an error in Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 83, specifically in paragraph (a) of § 83.01, about the preemptive effect of the navigation regulations upon State or local regulation.

The Inland Rules are a special body of rules defined by the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea, 1972, often referred to as “COLREGS” or “International Rules.” The President proclaimed the International Rules as United States law in accordance with the International Navigational Rules Act of 1977.[4] Congress subsequently set about harmonizing the inland navigation rules that remained in use within the United States, including the Western Rivers Rules, Great Lakes Rules, the old Inland Rules, and parts of the Motorboat Act of 1940. These efforts culminated in the Inland Navigational Rules Act of 1980, which codified Rules 1 through 38, considered the main body of the Inland Rules.


September 3, 2022: Federal Register