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Statement on Oregon Senate Bill 7 Regarding Oil Train Legislation

January 10, 2017

We are heartened to see Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney take up the critical public safety issue of dangerous oil trains in Oregon. On June 3rd, 2016, a Union Pacific oil train derailed in Mosier, spilling oil that burned and polluted the Columbia River. The Mosier derailment could easily have destroyed the town and injured or killed people.

Oregon is overdue to take every measure possible to protect our vulnerable towns, rivers, and fishing sites near high-risk oil trains.

The initial draft of Senate Bill 7 represents a serious effort to expose and rein in the excessive risks of oil trains passing through Oregon. SB 7 would:

  • Require contingency planning on the part of railroads (Oregon’s spill prevention program currently focuses more on marine oil transport)
  • Require railroads to pay a yearly fee to support Oregon’s Oil Spill Prevention Fund
  • Require railroads to demonstrate the rail carrier’s ability to pay costs associated with major oil train derailments, potentially exceeding $1 billion or more.

While we know that the only way to protect the Columbia River and communities near rail lines is to stop dangerous oil trains entirely, Senate Bill 7 can make a meaningful difference in increasing Oregon’s preparedness while making the liability of dangerous oil trains more transparent. We support Senator Courtney’s effort to address oil trains, and with the Stand Up to Oil Coalition we will continue our work to stop all oil trains from traveling through the Columbia River Gorge and the Pacific Northwest.

Read the text of Oregon Senate Bill 7.