Washington State Senators Propose Tax On Oil Train Shipments

Taylor Winkel, Northwest News Network

Powerful members of the Washington state Senate are on board with a plan to tax crude oil shipped into the state by rail.

The money raised would pay for oil spill response and clean up.

The proposed legislation would expand an existing barrel tax paid only by seaborne oil tankers.

Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen says extending the tax is fair.

“Every tanker coming into our refinery today pays a 5-cents-per-barrel tax that goes into oil spill prevention and response,” Ericksen says. “We believe we should apply that to rail cars coming in and we have a bi partisan bill that would apply the barrel tax to the rail cars also.”

Oil train traffic across the Northwest has rapidly increased since 2012. Trains are carrying crude oil from wells on the northern plains to refineries in Northwest Washington and a marine terminal in Clatskanie, Ore.

At least half a dozen more crude oil receiving terminals are on the drawing boards in Western Oregon and Washington.