This year, Washington State Legislature took a bold step forward to protect our communities and waterways against dangerous crude oil trains by requiring oil trains to meet simple safety requirements. Now, the Trump Administration is putting the oil industry first and trying to gut this new law.
We’ve seen the horrifying pictures of derailed tank cars, burning oil, and mushroom clouds of fire and smoke from oil train explosions. In 2013, an oil train accident killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.
The oil industry claimed the accident was a fluke. And yet in the next three years, oil trains carrying highly explosive Bakken crude oil derailed, exploded, and burned again and again. In 2016, a Bakken crude oil train derailed and burned in our backyard in the town of Mosier, Oregon.
Washington is home to five oil refineries, and Bakken oil trains cross our state almost every day. We cannot wait for another disaster to act. Speak up today for Washington’s right to protect the public from dangerous crude oil trains.
This year, Governor Jay Inslee signed a law that requires lower vapor pressures (an indicator of volatility) for any crude oil to be loaded or unloaded in Washington. This law would reduce the risk of catastrophes like Lac-Mégantic.
Now, North Dakota and Montana, where Bakken crude oil originates, have asked a federal agency called the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to declare the Washington law invalid. PHMSA has opened a public comment period. Tell PHMSA that Washington state should be able to protect its people and its environment from the onslaught of oil trains.
There are no federal vapor pressure requirements for oil trains. When the federal government fails to act, Washington can enact laws that protect human health and public safety—areas of traditional state authority.