Clean Water — Amendment Will Help State

Editorials & Opinion: Saturday, May 27, 1995

Letters To The Editor

I would like to express a major debt of gratitude to Sen. Patty Murray on behalf of the Washington Environmental Council and the kelp, fish, birds, mammals and coastal communities on the Olympic Peninsula. Her amendment to S 395 which lifts the ban on the export of Alaska North Slope crude requires the oil industry to pay for an emergency response tug to protect the Olympic Coast Sanctuary and the congested waters at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Having an adequately equipped vessel and trained crew to respond to ships which are in need of assistance in this region where there are no pilots, speed limits, weather restrictions, or tanker size limits, would fill an important gap in the state’s protection of its marine environment.

Lifting the ban on the export of Alaska crude will expedite the arrival of supertankers into Washington waters, for the faster we deplete our own oil supplies, the sooner it will come from farther distances, on larger ships. Supertankers will have to unload at Port Angeles because they are banned east of there. It is clear that the Washington waters will also be experiencing rapid growth in the amount of non-tanker traffic with the promotion of Far East trade and the redeployment of the U.S. military. Our strategic location two days closer to the Far East than other West Coast ports, deep straits and a rapidly growing market, further predispose us to this increased traffic.

It is time to focus our efforts on accommodating this growth rather than having the ports and the international shipping industry continue their promotional efforts while lobbying against our state’s prevention programs. It is now up to the U.S. House to mark up the export bill clarifying the type of emergency response vessel(s) we need in the strategically located port of Neah Bay.

This safety precaution has become all the more critical as the state Legislature has just gutted the primary agencies that have provided the public opportunities to protect Washington’s waters and oversee the maritime shipping industry. Sen. Murray has offered us a ray of light to pierce the dark days which will ensue with the loss of the autonomy of the Office of Marine Safety, Puget Sound Water Quality Authority and the existence of the Marine Oversight Board and Washington State Maritime Commission. Fred Felleman, Washington Environmental Council Seattle

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

~ by fredfelleman on May 27, 1995.

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