A recent story from KUOW details the efforts of citizen volunteers and legislators to learn just how many trains carrying oil are passing through Washington each week. Citizen volunteers are taking matters in to their own hands and taking shifts to count all the trains as they pass by their communities. In Olympia, Rep. Jessyn Farrell has championed oil train safety legislation for two sessions, passing a bill to implement some transparency measures this year.
Here is an excerpt from the KUOW report – “Washington State’s Oil Train Traffic Is Shrouded In Secrecy” by Ashley Ahearn.
A federal emergency order demands that railroads share limited information with states – but state officials want more.
Washington state lawmakers passed a law recently that requires oil refineries, which are state-regulated, to give weekly notice of the train schedule to first responders.
State Rep. Jessyn Farrell, a Seattle Democrat who sponsored the bill, said BNSF and the oil industry opposed the legislation from the beginning.
“We’re going to get the information,” she said. “I don’t really care who gives it to us as long as it’s good information and it stands in court, because we need that information now.”
BNSF Railway spent more than $300,000 on lobbyists and political contributions in Washington state in 2014.
Jessyn Farrell is a Democrat in the Washington state House who has fought for legislation that would force oil refineries to share information about how much oil is arriving by rail.
“I think they’re absolutely on the wrong side of this,” Farrell said. “In the public mind, and morally, they are absolutely wrong.”