Environmental Coalition Pushing Bill To Protect Residents From Risk Of Oil Spills

Jan 16, 2014

Last year’s fires aboard oil-carrying trains in Quebec and North Dakota have spurred environmentalists into action here in Washington state.

Figuring out how to keep Washington families safe from oil spills is one of two top-line issues backed by more than 20 groups in the Environmental Priorities Coalition this legislative session.

Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Mountlake Terrace, is the prime sponsor of a bill aimed at reducing the risk of spills.

“We're a very trade-dependent state. And commodities come through our state, and oil is one of those," Farrell said. "And because of, again, the recent catastrophes, it's really important that we do everything we can.”

Farrell says the bill aims to provide more transparency for communities in the path of oil in transport, and make sure emergency plans are in place with prepared first responders and the right safety regulations. She expects it to be a tough fight because of what she calls a polarized political environment in the state Capitol. 

And some business lobbyists who feel we’re already prepared say it's possible this regulation might butt up against federal laws about interstate commerce.

The House environment committee has scheduled a committee meeting on the oil transportation bill (HB2347) next Wednesday.