Democrats in the Washington Legislature are looking to bolster the state’s oil spill prevention efforts.
An expansion of a Kinder Morgan oil pipeline through British Columbia is expected to increase oil tanker traffic in Washington’s Salish Sea sevenfold. Meanwhile, Washington’s Department of Ecology estimates a shortfall of $4 million in its oil spill prevention program.
Companion bills introduced by Sen. Reuven Carlyle and Rep. Jessyn Farrell, both Seattle Democrats, hope to plug that gap by increasing a tax on oil shipments and extending the tax to cover oil transported by pipeline.
“While we know we need to move away from fossil fuels, at the same time crude oil is still coming through our state over water and over land and underground,” Farrell said. “And we can’t miss this opportunity to keep our communities safe.”
The legislation would require companies hauling oil to have insurance to cover spills and other accidents. It would also introduce additional safety standards for pipelines and tankers in Puget Sound, Farrell said.
Lawmakers in Washington also passed oil spill legislation last year, making it the first state to require detailed information about oil by rail shipments.
Top image: In this June 3, 2014, photo, the Polar Discovery, left, a crude oil tanker, and the Global Heart, a bulk cargo carrier taking on logs, are docked at a terminal in Port Angeles, Wash. Elaine Thompson/AP