Senate passes its own oil train safety bill, must reconcile it with House-passed measure

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An oil train derailed in West Virginia recently. At least one of the burning rail cars ended up in the Kanawha River. (Tega McGuffin/Twitter)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Senate has passed a measure to improve the safety of oil transportation, one of two competing bills that deal with the increasing shipments of crude oil through the state.

Senate Bill 5057, sponsored by Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen, passed in a 26-23 vote Monday night after extended debate.

The measure 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 the Columbia River and in Grays Harbor.

Ericksen’s bill also extends a barrel tax collected on oil that comes to the state by train with the proceeds going to an oil-spill response fund.

It differs from House Bill 1449, which passed last week, because it doesn’t cover oil shipped by pipeline and lacks requirements that railroads and others show they can pay to clean up a spill.

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