With more crude oil expected to move through our state, Democratic lawmakers are working to toughen rules around oil transportation and raise funding for spill prevention and response efforts.
According to the Daily Progress, companion bills currently in the House and Senate would reduce the risk of spills for oil carried by vessels, pipelines and trains.
In November, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which will increase from five to 34 the monthly number of oil tankers and barges on the waters of Washington state and Canada.
The pipeline will carry oil from Alberta to Vancouver where it will be loaded on ships for Asian and U.S. markets.
Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle is sponsoring House Bill 1611, which is scheduled to be heard today in the environment committee. The companion Senate Bill 5462 is sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle.
Both measures would require the Department of Ecology to require tug escorts and other safety measures for barges through the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. Tug escorts are currently required for oil tank ships that transit parts of northern Puget Sound. But vessels such as barges and articulated tug and barges — ships where the tug and barge are combined — aren’t subject to those requirements.
Under the bills, oil refineries proposing to handle crude oil for export update their spill response and prevention plans. Railroads would have to show they have the ability to pay for cleanup and damage caused in the event of a major oil spill — something vessels and pipelines are required to do.