New rules for crude oil impact Grays Harbor vessels

A measure aimed at addressing potential risks as more crude oil is shipped by rail into the state has cleared the House.

House Bill 2347, originally sponsored by 29 Representatives including Kevin Van De Wege and Steve Tharinger, passed early Tuesday on a 57-37 vote and now heads to the Senate.

Environmental groups supported the bill, saying it would provide more transparency about the movement of oil through communities like Grays Harbor.

In the updated bill it states, “Because of the danger of spills, the legislature finds that the transportation of crude oil and refined petroleum products by tankers on the Columbia river, Grays Harbor, and on Puget Sound and adjacent waters creates a great potential hazard to important natural resources of the state and to jobs and incomes dependent on these resources.”

The measure authorizes the state Department of Ecology to come up with new rules requiring tug escorts for oil tankers entering Grays Harbor. The bill was amended to limit when the agency would have the authority to make those rules.

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