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Willamette Week: Oregon Legislature Passes Three Notable Environmental Bills

Willamette Week: Oregon Legislature Passes Three Notable Environmental Bills
(photographer: Tony Webster)
July 3, 2019
Categorie(s): Latest News, In the Press

By Elise Herron, Willamette Week 

During the last two days of the 2019 legislative session, the Oregon Senate passed three notable environmental bills.

The wins came as House Bill 2020, the cap and trade legislation championed by Democrats and Gov. Kate Brown, was pronounced dead. And environmental justice groups are critical, saying lawmakers made compromises that won't necessarily solve the problem they were meant to address.

On Saturday, the Senate passed House Bill 2209, which requires railroad companies to do more to prepare for oil spills. And on Sunday, the Legislature passed House Bill 2007, which will regulate diesel trucks in the Portland metro area, and Senate Bill 792, which increases supervision of auto dismantlers....

HB 2209 requires railroad companies to have oil spill contingency plans and to create funds dedicated to any potential oil cleanups.

Environmental advocates like Michael Lang, conservation director for Friends of the Columbia Gorge, say that the bill will help communities and first responders be better prepared for spills, but it could do more.

He says HB 2209 doesn't require railroad companies to have a worst case scenario plan that accounts for all the oil in the train spilling, but defines worst case as 15 percent of the train's load.

He adds that companies are also not required to give advance notification of oil trains coming through Oregon, nor to track how many trains and how much oil is funneled through the state.

"All I can say is that it took Oregon four years to pass what Washington did in one session in 2015," Lang says. "Nevertheless, persistence pays off and credit where credit is due, there was a lot of bipartisan support on this bill."...

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