Aloha Surfrider Washington!
It’s been a very busy month in Olympia and we are working hard to secure critical oil transportation safety measures to protect our local coasts.
The Oil Transportation Safety Act – House Bill 2347 has made it out of the House Environment Committee and Appropriations Committee and is now being reviewed by the Rules Committee. If all goes well, and HB2347 is voted out of the Rules Committee, the bill will receive a vote by the House of Representatives. This vote will take place by February 18, at the latest.
(Westport. Photo: J.Carben/Surfrider)
The main provisions of HB 2347 currently are:
- Requires Ecology to compile quarterly oil transportation reports that incorporate information submitted by certain oil facilities;
- Requires oil tankers that enter Grays Harbor and the Columbia River to be escorted by at least one tug;
- Authorizes Ecology to require 2 tug escorts, tanker-tug tethering, or other escort requirements for certain oil tankers entering Puget Sound, Grays Harbor, and the Columbia River;
- Triples natural resource damages assessment for oil spills in certain circumstances deemed reckless or negligent; and
- Directs the Office of Financial Management to conduct a study of the state’s capacity to respond to oil train accidents.
At the same time, another oil transportation related bill entitled Transportation of Hazardous Materials (SB 6524) has passed out of the Senate Energy and Environment & Telecommunications Committee. Unfortunately, this bill contains greatly reduced protections for our recreational use areas and coastal communities. The bill:
- Requires Ecology, the Utilities & Transportation Commission, the Federal Railroad Administration, and industry experts to conduct a study of the safety of transporting oil and hazardous materials;
- Requires Ecology and the UTC to hold a symposium on emergency spill prevention and response activities for oil and hazardous materials transported in the Pacific Northwest region;
- Requires Ecology to develop a grant program for emergency first responders for oil and hazardous materials spill prevention and response plans;
- Requires oil refineries and other facilities to submit data to Ecology on the volume and type of crude oil that arrives at a facility.
In anticipation for the House of Representatives vote, we ask that Surfrider members let our elected officials know how important this issue is to recreational users of the coast. Please contact your local officials to let them know that you support HB 2347 and the safe transport of oil for our coasts and communities.
And if you have three minutes, please call your local representative. Find your legislator here.
Oil transportation safety measures are the key to guaranteeing that our coast is prepared. Take action now and make sure that we have the proper measures in place to protect against future spills.