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Legislative Priorities

Ensuring responsibility means protecting the public's right to thorough and fair review of development projects that impact their community.

Last year, over 124,000 comments were submitted on the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal -- most of them demanding an exhaustive, unprecedented review of the project's multitude of severe impacts on our communities. The Department of Ecology and Whatcom County ultimately agreed: a project with unprecedented impacts and a process with unprecedented public outcry requires an unprecedented review.

Despite their promises to adhere to Washington's high environmental standards, SSA Marine and coal companies decided they weren't happy with the public knowing the full truth about their project. Right now, industry lobbyists are trying to weaken the state standards that give the public the right to know how coal export terminals will impact them.

Closing the Big Oil Tax Loophole

The state should close tax loopholes that give away millions to dirty, dangerous fuels.

Currently, Washington state gives away tens of millions of state dollars each year—$41 million this biennium alone - to out-of-state oil companies via a little-known tax loophole. It’s time to hold polluters accountable for the pollution they put into our air and water, not support them with public funds that should be focused on education and other community investments. that support strong families here at home. We need to close the fossil fuel loophole. (Click here to read the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee report on this loophole.)

The act to Close the Big Oil Tax Loophole is HB 2465.

Oil Transportation Safety Act

The Oil Transportation Safety Act will give our communities the tools they need to better protect public safety, human health and our natural resources from the risks of spills and accidents.

Throughout the nation, we are hearing about fires and accidents caused by oil transport. This is at the same time that Washington faces new proposals to move more oil through our state - increasing our risk of oil spills and accidents. It is more urgent than ever to protect the health of our waterways and improve safety in communities across Washington. The Environmental Priorities Coalition believes you deserve to know how much and what kind of oil is moving through our state, as well as have improved safety standards to protect our waterways and our coasts.

The Oil Transportation Safety Act is HB 2347 and SB 6262.

Require Oil Transport Disclosure

With dramatic increases proposed for oil transport through our region, it is critical to have the tools both to enforce permit limits on oil train traffic and to understand the risk of oil transport. One of the provisions of the Oil Transportation Safety Act would be to require all facilities in the state receiving oil by rail, pipeline, and vessel to fully disclose to the Department of Ecology and to the public the type of oil they receive, how often, and by what mode of transit. 

This gives emergency first responders the information they need to plan for spills and accidents, and provides local communities an accurate assessment of the risk. To learn more about the proposed increased in oil traffic, check out our Baykeeper page on oil transport.

Strengthen Safeguards for Marine Spills

The current framework of marine spill response is governed by 1970s legislation and was designed only to address the influx of oil by tanker from Alaska. The state's spill response program is currently inadequate to deal with the potential impacts of cumulative vessel traffic, including the sharp increase of freight traffic to and from Asia in the last 30 years. It also never envisioned a reality where oil would move in large quantities into the state by rail and pipeline and be sent out on oil tankers.

Times have changed, and so should our spill response program. In addition to providing a legal means to stem the tide of oil transport into the state, the Oil Transportation Safety Act will require added tug boat escorts of oil tankers to prevent accidents in Puget Sound and the Columbia River, strengthen regulations for piloting oil vessels to make sure someone's always at the wheel, and make sure the industry pays its own way for keeping our waterways safe.

For more information on the marine risks posed by oil transport, review the Vessel Traffic Risk Assessment resulting from our 2000 lawsuit on the BP pier.

Develop Community-Based Response Plans

New plans to move large quantities of oil by rail to local refineries places dozens of communities across Washington state in the crosshairs, including ours. The Oil Transportation Safety Act would require the state to gather more information on the exact nature of the risk to particularly exposed communities, assess the adequacy of emergency response resources, and enhance the tools of local fire and police departments to answer the call. 

This provision is specifically intended to address the risks associated with oil by rail, and is a starting place to begin educating our legislators and the public on the challenges we face.


Environmental priorities are the right choice for Washington.
Join the movement to power past coal and help make them a reality.

Here's how you can help right now:
  1. Call your state legislators. Tell them you support the environmental priorities, and would like them to join you. Encourage them to vote yes to ensure environmental responsibility, close the big oil tax loophole and improve oil transportation safety. Tell them to support HB 2465, HB 2347 and SB 6262.
  2. Stay informed. Subscribe to our Power Past Coal e-mail list to receive action alerts when your voice is particularly meaningful and to stay informed on the status of all of the legislative priorities. You'll also be notified of upcoming events and opportunities to be involved.
  3. Attend monthly meetings in your neighborhood. It's a great opportunity to meet other activists working to stop coal exports, transition to clean energy, and restore our environment. Join us each month to keep up to date and learn about the ways you can advance the fight against pollution and climate change.
  4. Donate to help support our work. Even a small contribution goes a long way to move us beyond coal to a clean energy economy. Your donation will support full-time outreach to keep people informed about the issues facing our environment and help us build the movement whose legacy will protect natural resources for our children and our future.