Clark County Legislator Concerned About Health and Safety of Oil Cars


An oil train parked in Vancouver, Wash., in early April. BNSF moves 18 oil trains weekly through the Columbia River Gorge to Clark County. (Rob Davis/The Oregonian)

An oil train parked in Vancouver, Wash., in early April. BNSF moves 18 oil trains weekly through the Columbia River Gorge to Clark County. (Rob Davis/The Oregonian)

The issue of oil trains moving through Clark County is a contentious one because increased oil transportation creates jobs, though some worry at the expense of local health and safety. Right now, about three oil trains pass through the Vancouver region every day. If a new oil terminal is built, that traffic would more than double, with many of these trains passing within a mile of local schools. (http://www.npr.org/2015/03/04/390727189/northwest-oil-terminal-plan-would-mean-jobs-and-more-oil-trains)

District 18 State Representative Liz Pike recently advocated Senate Bill 5057, which she believes is a more rational approach toward addressing concerns of oil train safety in Washington than the House bill currently on the table:

Recently I voted “NO” on House Bill 1449 because it contained several elements that I oppose. However, let me be very clear: my priority on this issue is for the safe transportation of crude oil through our communities in Washington.  While I’m opposed to House Bill 1449, I support an alternative measure, Senate Bill 5057 in its current form offered by Sen. Doug Ericksen. Please check out this linked article about the Senate bill which passed out of that chamber March 9. (March 19, 2015, Rep. Liz Pike e-newsletter)

In contrast to the House bill, Ericksen’s Senate bill requires the Department of Ecology to review oil-spill response plans, provide grants to local emergency responders and convene a panel to evaluate whether tug escorts are needed for oil vessels on our rivers.

What do you think of oil train proposals currently on the table?

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