Montana seeking to strike WA state law aimed at crude-oil trains

Posted at 3:08 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 17:58:16-04

HELENA – The states of Montana and North Dakota are petitioning the federal government to overturn a Washington state law that tightens restrictions on rail cars carrying Bakken crude oil to the West Coast.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said in a Wednesday news release that coastal states shouldn’t dictate what commodities interior states bring to market.

The two states submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation, arguing that the federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act supersedes state law governing transport of materials such as crude oil.

During this year’s legislative session, Washington state lawmakers approved a bill prohibiting the unloading of crude oil by rail if its vapor pressure is greater than nine pounds per square inch.

The legislation already required crude oil transport facilities to give the state advance notice of incoming rail shipments.

Supporters said the law was needed to protect against possible fires and explosions in rail cars following derailments.

Montana and North Dakota officials say the pressure regulations would render Bakken crude oil uneconomical to unload at Washington refineries.