Having just returned from a trip on Amtrak to Montana, I can tell you this is a big deal there too. Why? My 9 PM return train arrived at 1:30 AM, and the evening before it arrived at 7:30 AM the next day. All because of oil and coal train traffic, which is prioritized over Amtrak by Burlington Northern. An watching the seemingly endless oil tankers roll by knowing that a derailment could cause a catastrophic explosion like in Quebec, didn’t help. Why does this matter to us? Because we have rail lines running right along Puget Sound, there are six more refinery plans on the books for the near future, and the oil industry is lobbying hard to allow them to ship the excess to China, right through the Strait. This would mean hundreds of more tankers a year.
The fight over coal trains, billed as the Pacific Northwest’s biggest environment debate in decades, is so 2013. The new hot topic is oil transportation. Fueled by statistics showing that more oil spilled in the United States last year than in the 37 previous years combined — along with recent oil-train explosions — state lawmakers from both parties and chambers are pushing for quick action…. But Republicans and Democrats support differing proposals for how to do so, setting up a potential collision in the divided Legislature. Brian M. Rosenthal reports. See also: House passes bill aimed at oil train safety http://www.goskagit.com/news/state/house-passes-bill-aimed-at-oil-train-safety/article_b98631e6-0fa5-500c-a878-7ad0567160c1.html See also: Oil train safety: Political wreck ahead? http://crosscut.com/2014/02/19/under-the-dome/118808/oil-train-safety-energy-transportation-legislature/