Oil spills threaten the Salish Sea and Washington’s coast every day. These risks threaten coastal jobs, cultures and livelihoods, as well as the endangered Southern Resident orcas. This legislative session, Washington can pass oil spill prevention legislation to modernize our safeguards and protect our environment, economy, and endangered orcas from the devastation of an oil spill.
The following bills are critical in Orca Emergency Response and Oil Spill Prevention in our region:
- HB 1194 and SB 5135, Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act
- HB 1579, Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance, and SB 5580, implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing habitat and forage fish abundance
- HB 1580 and SB 5577, Concerning the protection of southern resident orca whales from vessels
- HB 1578 and SB 5578, Reducing threats to southern resident killer whales by improving the safety of oil transportation
I am writing you today to urge you to work for and to vote for strong oil spill prevention measures this session.
Our waters support the life and natural beauty of our state and bolster our growing economy. Every day, the risk of oil spills threatens Washington’s robust fishing industry, strong coastal tourism and recreation economy, and a world-class marine ecosystem, and the endangered Southern Resident Orcas.
Despite these consequences, Washington’s oil spill prevention program has not kept up with the changing risk. Over the last decade, under-regulated barges and smaller tankers have increasingly been used to transport oil, while at the same time there have been changes in the type of oil moving through the state. Heavy, sinking oils are being carried through the Salish Sea by tug and tank barges, which do not operate with the same safety regulations as oil tankers.
We need modernized safeguards that address all vessels carrying crude oil through the Salish Sea and protect our communities and environment from the threat of a major oil spill.
I know that all it takes is one catastrophic oil spill to deeply harm our beautiful environments and growing economy. I am in full support of HB 1578 and SB 5578 to reduce the threat of a catastrophic oil spill in our waters. I urge you to support strong and reasonable oil spill prevention measures this session.