Oil Train Safety Bill Passes Washington Legislature

April 27, 2015

The Washington Legislature has passed a measure to improve the safety of oil transportation due to a sharp increase in the number of oil-carrying freight trains in the state.

Lawmakers reached a compromise Friday afternoon to resolve differences between competing versions that earlier cleared the Senate and House. The Senate voted 46-0 and the House 95-1 on House bill 1449, which now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for consideration.

The compromise includes some provisions that Inslee and Democrats had pushed for, including requiring railroads to show they can pay to clean up oil spills. It extends a barrel tax on boat-transported oil to railroads to help pay for oil spill response, but doesn’t cover pipelines. It also does not include marine protections that environmental groups had sought for oil shipments via the Puget Sound.

The bill also requires railroads to provide weekly notice to first responders of the type and volume of oil shipped. That information will be made public on a quarterly basis.

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