Spokane City Council calls for stronger state and Federal oil transportation regulations

Ben Stuckart, City Council President, 509.625.6258; Adam McDaniel, Senior Executive Assistant, 509.625.6269

Monday, February 3, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.

On Monday, February 3rd, the Spokane City Council unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Council President Ben Stuckart calling for stronger state and Federal regulations regarding the transportation of crude oil via rail. Spokane, the major rail hub of the Inland Northwest, is the first city in the western United States to officially call for specific oil industry transparency and rail traffic mitigation.

Under newly proposed oil terminals, the number of trains carrying crude oil through Spokane could increase to 11. City officials are especially alarmed with increased rail traffic carrying crude oil from the Bakken Shale. On January 2nd of this year, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) called crude oil from the Bakken region “more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil.”

Council President Stuckart outlined his concern about the up-tick in dangerous crude oil rail traffic to a January 22nd packed Washington State House Environment Committee hearing. “I think we're taking bombs through our cities,” said Stuckart. “We're in a situation where our town would be split in half if we look at a derailment.”

Spokane's resolution calls on the Federal government to create stronger regulations for rail cars carrying crude oil, and also calls for the tracking of chemical composition of all transported fuels so local communities can better understand the risks associated with its transport. The resolution also calls on the state of Washington to publish a report of all oil transported throughout the state.