Dye’s bill designed to cut railroad regulatory red tape signed into law

Small railroads facing unnecessary regulatory burdens on agricultural oils now have relief

Concerns about heavy-handed regulations and their effect on small railroads led to legislation sponsored by Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy. House Bill 1136, which was signed into law by the governor Monday, tailors the emergency planning requirements for short-line railroads hauling cooking oil, and small quantities of other kinds of low volatile oils, from directives that apply to Bakken crude and other petroleum based oils.

“Two years ago, the Legislature passed comprehensive oil train regulations,” said Dye. “Unfortunately, food grade and mineral oils were inadvertently included in the provisions. Oversized government regulations could injure one of the largest industries in the state. This could hurt the people who make their living on agricultural products shipped by rail. This is a huge victory. It is, essentially, regulatory relief.”

HB 1136 exempts Class III railroads that do not haul crude oil or refined petroleum products from certain drill performance and equipment contracting requirements associated with oil spill emergency response plans.

“Working closely with regulators, environmentalists, and the rail industry shows that people with very passionately held views can work together to find solutions to keep our companies in business and still provide the public the assurances they need,” continued Dye. “While we had to negotiate a compromise, we got 95 percent of what we wanted. The bottom line is, small rail has been hauling cooking oils and other non-toxic oils in Washington for years, and they haven't spilled a drop. More importantly, these oils are a far cry from a combustible petroleum based substance.”

Under Dye's bill, the rules adopted by the Department of Ecology narrows the disaster preparedness planning requirements for small railroads not participating in the hauling of bulk-refined petroleum products used for fuel.

“Had the bill not been signed into law, the cost of meeting the stringent regulatory code could have had a crippling effect on the rail lines. The future of Washington's rural, agricultural areas could have been jeopardized,” said Dye. “Rail is a vital lifeline for the people and economy of the ninth legislative district. We continue to meet the needs of a changing economy. One-size-fits-all oil train regulations are not tailored to our diverse agricultural economy. The unintended consequences of including agricultural oil, and other kinds of oil, in the Bakken crude regulations is disastrous to our industry and rural economic development. I am glad we found a bipartisan solution to cleanup current statute.”

The law will go into effect on July 23, 2017.


Washington State House Republican Communications