Sunday, March 29, 2015
HB1449 faces key vote this week: voice your support!
By Jerry Cornfield, Herald writer Daily Herald 3/29/15
OLYMPIA — State lawmakers are trying to reach agreement on tougher rules for the transportation of oil in Washington, including a requirement that rail carriers give local firefighters advance notice of when oil trains are coming.
Competing bills in the House and Senate could bring higher taxes for refiners, larger crew sizes on trains for railroads and more inspections of tracks and railroad crossings.Sponsors of the bills are trying to reconcile differences and avoid legislative derailment, but the chasm might be too great in the typically contentious final weeks of the legislative session.
“The public wants us to act,” said Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, prime sponsor of the House bill. “Our local officials want us to act. We've made some progress. I think both the Senate and the House want to get a bill passed.”....
.... two bills face key votes this week. On Monday, Ericksen's Senate Bill 5057 is to be considered by the House Environment Committee, and on Tuesday, Farrell's House Bill 1449 will be up for action before the Senate environment panel.
The House bill — which was originally requested by Gov. Jay Inslee — requires advance notice to the Department of Ecology of oil transfers by rail, including information about the volume, type and route. Such reports must be provided daily. Ericksen's bill requires notice once a week.
Farrell's legislation also requires railroads to show they can afford to pay for oil spill cleanup and allows for new rules requiring tug escorts of oil barges along the Columbia River and in Grays Harbor.
Farrell is proposing to double the oil barrel tax from 4 cents to 8 cents to cover the full cost of oil spill preparedness and response. Ericksen's bill keeps the tax unchanged.
Both bills would begin to apply the barrel tax on oil delivered by trains. Today it is only levied on marine tanker shipments. Farrell also wants it applied to material moved by pipeline.
Both bills would add rail inspectors at the state Utilities and Transportation Commission through increases in an existing railroad regulatory fee.
The required number of crew members on trains transporting oil and other hazardous materials could be contentious.
Today oil trains travel with two crew members. Under the Senate bill, a third person would be required on trains of 50 or fewer cars transporting hazardous materials, and a fourth person would be required for those with 51 or more cars. That could affect roughly 12 trains per week that travel through Snohomish County.
Ericksen opposes the provision, which was added by Senate colleagues over his objection. He said he'll try to get it removed. The House bill is silent on crew size, but Farrell said her colleagues support it..... more here
Keep the pressure on to pass HB 1449 and the Senate provision for larger crews. Find your Senator here
-the form will let you also send your message to your Representatives.