Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, pushed a provision reclassifying oil and ethanol traffic as a “high priority” for the Federal Emergency Management Agency through committee Tuesday.
“Public safety needs to be paramount with regard to the oil traveling through Southwest Washington by rail,” Herrera Beutler said in a press release. “I’m pleased to advance this important reform to help our first responders more quickly and efficiently address an accident.”
Herrera Beutler included the reclassifying language in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s 2016 Department of Homeland Security spending bill, which will help response efforts for rail-moved crude oil and ethanol get federal funding.
FEMA currently doesn’t treat hazmat operations, training and equipment as a high priority, which makes it challenging for rail communities to get grants to respond to oil and ethanol spills on railroads, according to a press release.
“Under the current system, cities and towns on our rail lines are at a disadvantage as they compete for federal assistance to prepare for an incident,” Herrera Beutler said. “By making their efforts a higher priority, we are demonstrating to residents of Southwest Washington who see oil by rail daily that if, God forbid, we have a derailment, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we are equipped and prepared to deal with it.”