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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Ecology Director Says Region 'Falling Short' On Oil Spill Response

Friday’s oil train derailment and fire comes as Washington state prepares to put new oil shipment safety rules into effect. In fact, the derailment in the Columbia Gorge happened just as the first public hearing on those rules was wrapping up in Vancouver, Washington.

Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon said despite the new rules, a quick response anywhere in the state requires money.

“We’re doing trainings, we’re doing drill responses. But quite frankly I am a little worried about the budget to do that,” Bellon said. “We’re already falling short because of a lot of the funds that come in to pay for the oil spill program and the response program at the Department of Ecology is based on the value of a barrel of oil which is very low right now.”

Oil spill funding in Washington comes from a tax on oil.

The new oil train safety rules will require railroads to have state-approved oil spill contingency plans. They also require advance notice of oil trains to local emergency responders.

Bellon spoke with Austin Jenkins on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."