To the editor:
A year after Mosier’s disastrous oil train derailment resulted in an explosion, toxic fire and 42,000 gallon oil spill, there are now several bills in the Oregon and U.S. Legislature that all Oregonians should be aware of. First, some background…
From 1970 until 2015, to improve U.S. energy independence, Congress banned crude oil export. When the ban was lifted, we saw a much more frequent parade of oil trains through the Gorge, each with up to 120 railcars containing 3 million gallons or more of explosive Bakken crude oil.
Derailments in the past three years have resulted in 47 deaths, evacuations of thousands of people, and billions of dollars in property and environmental damage throughout North America.
This explosive oil is on its way through Oregon to refineries in other states, and then is exported for profit, so Oregon gets the risk with no direct economic benefit. Oil prices, now low, are expected to rebound, resulting in more West Coast refineries for increased export, and more oil trains through our communities and pristine natural areas.
Compared to California and Washington, Oregon’s weak laws for oil trains and terminals make it much easier and cheaper to transport potentially dangerous oil through our state. Let’s not allow the uber-wealthy oil and railroad industries to take advantage of us. Here’s what you can do:
Contact your State Senator, Ted Ferrioli (503-986-1950 or Sen.TedFerrioli@oregonlegislature.gov) and your State Representative, John Huffman (503-986-1459 or Rep.JohnHuffman@oregonlegislature.gov).
Ask them to:
SUPPORT HB 2131 and SB 7, to require additional contingency planning by railroads, levy fees for Oregon’s Oil Spill Prevention Fund, and require railroads to demonstrate financial responsibility to pay for a worst-case oil spill, potentially exceeding $1 billion.
SUPPORT HB 3344 with amendments, to require railroads to submit financial responsibility statements, and give more authority to the state of Oregon regarding construction of oil terminals and oil-by-rail infrastructure to weigh potential environmental harm against public need.
OPPOSE HB 2480, which would bypass local decision-making and limit communities’ abilities to plan for safety. This bill, backed by fossil fuel interests, will preempt local government ordinances and resolutions against oil trains and terminals.
Finally, contact your U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (202-225-6730) and ask him to SUPPORT HR 2223, sponsored by Oregon’s own Peter DeFazio, which provides for a rail spill preparedness fund. It’s long past time for Mr. Walden to stop enabling Big Oil and the Trump fossil fuel agenda.