Rep. Christine Rolfes said Tuesday that she wants to improve oil spill response in Puget Sound and she wants industry to pay for it.
Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, announced that she already has support from other House Democrats for a bill she plans to introduce by the end of the week to require tanker companies establish a volunteer coordination system, invest in more advanced oil spill response equipment and contract with local commercial vessels to help should a spill occur.
“My biggest concern was watching the BP spill,” said Rolfes, who serves as vice chairwoman of the House Environment Committee. “I would like our state and our industry working together to make sure that if a disaster like that happens here we’ve done everything we can.”
Rolfes said she had secured the support of 14 other representatives to be co-sponsors of the bill including Rep. Zack Hudgins and Rep. Dave Upthegrove, chairman of the Environment Committee.
She said Upthegrove had assured her that the bill would get a hearing in committee.
Curt Hart, a spokesman for the Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response Program in the state Ecology Department said the program had long supported the initiatives proposed in Rolfes’ announcement, including the idea that industry help pay for oil spill preparedness.
“They’re hitting the nail right on the head with this one,” he said. Hart said the threat of oil spills in the Puget Sound area was real given the volume of tanker traffic that uses the area’s waterways. He said the Ecology Department spill program receives about 3800 reports of spills in the area per year and responds to about 1200.
“If we had a major spill in Washington, the economic, cultural and environmental costs in our state would be astronomical,” Hart said.