Stop Oil Trains, Build Cross-State Pipeline, Says Spokane Lawmaker

Jun 8, 2016

The oil train spill in Mosier, Oregon was the latest of about 20 oil train derailments in the U.S. since 2013.That's according to the group Earth Justice. One Washington lawmaker says there's one way to limit the danger of derailments or oil spills in this state: build an oil pipeline.

Trains carry oil across Washington to send it overseas.

Republican state Senator Michael Baumgartner says because of safety concerns, the state should consider an east-west oil pipeline. He says pipelines are safer than trains.

"We do have this large, sometimes dangerous commodity moving right through our cities. It would make more sense to look at going straight across the northern, sparsely populated part of the state,” said Baumgartner.

Last year Baumgartner introduced a bill seeking a pipeline study, but it didn't get traction.

He hopes to introduce it again.

But the environmental think-tank Sightline Institute says Washington doesn't need a pipeline or oil trains.

Policy director Eric de Place says Washington doesn't get much financial benefit from allowing these oil shipments.

"Should the refineries on the north Puget Sound and in Tacoma continue to be allowed to receive oil trains? And I think the answer from the safety record is clearly no it's a bad idea,” said de Place.

He says the state could stop oil trains by denying certain permits to refineries.

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