‘Washington’s legislation was an obvious example of overreach … and could have ultimately driven their state refineries to foreign sources of crude oil…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) The Trump administration on Monday moved to block a Washington state law that imposed harsh climate-change regulations on crude-oil shipments passing through the state.
The law was spearheaded by Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee — whose presidential campaign based completely on climate change was a miserable failure — under the pretense of environmentalism and public safety.
The regulations effectively trapped landlocked oil-producing states that rely on Washington’s Pacific seaports.
“Today’s decision is much-needed good news for North Dakota’s oil producers as they battle the COVID-19 pandemic and the global oil price war,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, in a joint statement with fellow Republican North Dakotans Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kelly Armstrong.
“Washington’s legislation was an obvious example of overreach, not scientifically founded, and could have ultimately driven their state refineries to foreign sources of crude oil, further harming America’s energy dominance,” they said.
The Department of Transportation determined federal law preempts the Washington law, which hinged on the fig leaf of preventing volatile gases contained in Northern Plains oil from causing an accident.
Inslee claimed the law would boost safety for schools and homes from oil trains passing nearby. He cited a 2013 train explosion in Quebec, Canada, for media effect.
The problem, however, was that complying with the regulations wouldn’t have made a difference, except for making the transported oil economically unviable due to unmanageable compliance costs.
According to the Transportation Department’s analysis, the removal of volatile gases was not a “statistically significant factor” in the severity of oil train crashes.
“A state cannot use safety as a pretext for inhibiting market growth or instituting a de facto ban on crude oil by rail within its borders,” wrote Paul Roberti, chief counsel of the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Northern oil-producing states’ attorneys general petitioned the Transportation Department for help in July 2019.
At the time, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox argued that “rigorous and uniform” regulations for the safe transport of oil were long-established, and that Gov. Inslee and the climate-change activist lobby simply decided they didn’t apply.
“Washington state politicians want to pretend those standards are insufficient as a pretext for their anti-oil agenda,” he said.
On Monday, Fox got the last laugh. He called the decision “a victory for Montanans and the citizens of other oil-rich states,” and slammed Inslee for illegally attempting to “dictate what commodities other states can transport to market.”
A spokesperson for Inslee said state officials were disappointed with the DOT’s 74-page decision.
“Washington’s law helps protect the public from the inherent risks of transporting oil by rail by decreasing explosion risk in the event of an oil train derailment,” said his communications director.
An attorney for the radical climate-change lawfare organization EarthJustice blamed President Donald Trump and his supporters.
“In Trump’s America, states are on their own to protect the health and safety of their citizens—until it bumps against the wishes of the oil industry,” said Jan Hasselman of EarthJustice.
But rather than play politics, the ruling relied on the finding that there was nothing scientifically unusual about the volatility of Northern Plains and Bakken crude oil.
“This is just one more decision verifying what we’ve known from Day 1,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which represents more than 500 companies and thousands of workers.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press