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Lawmakers Propose Updates To Oil Safety In Washington State

U.S. Department of Transportation

Lawmakers in Olympia heard a set of bills Monday, that would enhance regulations around oil transportation by rail, water, and pipeline.

One retired refinery worker from Anacortes, Steve Garey, said he and others in the business understand why adequate prevention measures are so vital.

“We know how bad it can get with these substances, and we know how quickly it can get bad,” Garey said. “It is irresponsible not to take reasonable steps to ensure protection for the special environment that is so central to the soul of the Pacific Northwest.”

Two years ago, the legislature passed a bill on this very issue, known as the Oil Transportation Safety Act. It requires the Department of Ecology to submit quarterly reports on oil transportation. In January, their first report said over 14 million barrels of oil traveled through the state by rail between October and December 2016.

But more oil will get going soon. A decision last fall approved new pipeline expansions in Canada. And in 2015 Congress lifted a number of restrictions on U.S. crude oil exports. Both are expected to have significant impacts on oil transportation throughout the region.