Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, you’ve probably noticed a fair amount of media attention on the subject of oil transportation in our state. By rail, by pipeline, by vessel…there is a massive amount of oil coming into Washington from other regions and unfortunately we are not adequately prepared in the event of a major spill.
What is the State of Washington doing to ensure that the health of the marine ecosystem and coastal communities are protected? Despite previous efforts in 2014 to advance legislation known as the Oil Transportation Safety Act, unfortunately it was stalled out in the Senate after passing the House so instead they decided to study the issue in greater depth, leaving our communities vulnerable to a spill in the meantime. Key issues that Surfrider members feel are really important in any bill moving forward are the mandatory placement of escort and rescue tugs at the mouth of the Columbia River, Grays Harbor, and within the Puget Sound. Additionally, funding for community preparedness and emergency response training is an essential component to be ready in the event that a spill occurs. In the 2014 Legislative session, the Department of Ecology received one time appropriations to address the changes in the way oil is transported, and study the impact on the state:
- $652,000 to develop geographic response plans (GRPs) for inland areas and hiring additional marine and rail experts.
- $300,000 to produce a Marine and Rail Oil Transportation Study that will analyze the risks to public health and safety, and the environmental impacts associated with the transport of oil in our state.
You can learn more about the issue of oil transportation in Washington, sign up for oil transportation newsletter, and get more info on what the Department of Ecology is working on to prevent a spill by going here.
Will your concerns be adequately addressed? Ecology is expected to release the Draft Oil Transportation Study in early October for public comment. There are Public Meetings scheduled for October 28 & 30th in Spokane & Olympia, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the study and raise concerns, mark your calendar and plan to attend. The public is invited to join the Marine and Rail Oil Transport Study team to hear what is happening and learn how to provide comments at two upcoming informational meetings scheduled in October. The meetings will be held in Lacey and Spokane, and are open to everyone, we are working with our partners at the Washington Environmental Council to generate a large turnout:
Save the date, plan to attend and RSVP today!
WHEN: October 28, 6:00-8:00 pm
WHERE: Spokane, venue location to be determined
WHEN: October 30, 6:00-8:00 pm
WHERE: Olympia, venue location to be determined
NOTE: Bus transportation and car pools are being arranged for Whatcom/Skagit County, East King County, Seattle, Grays Harbor, and Vancouver/Longview. Car pools for all areas are also being organized. Details are in the RSVP links above.
You do not need to attend a meeting to provide comments on the Marine Rail Oil Transport study. Visit