Department of Transportation preempts Washington state’s crude-by-rail law

Published: May. 11, 2020 at 6:24 PM CDT
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The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a ruling Monday allowing for the transport of crude oil by rail nationwide, and preempting Washington state’s crude by rail law.

It follows a study by Sandia National laboratories, showing that imposing vapor pressure limits would not reduce the risks of transporting oil and other flammable liquids.

The study also found that Bakken crude has comparable characteristics to crude from the Permian Basin in Texas. The study emphasizes the Trump Administration’s decision to overturn Washington’s law, which would have banned Bakken crude in the Pacific Northwest.

"I am pleased that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration agreed with North Dakota's position that the State of Washington does not have authority to regulate the unloading of Bakken crude oil by limiting the vapor pressure of the oil,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

North Dakota’s congressional delegation responded to the decision as well.

“We need to be able to move our Bakken crude to the west, not only to the refineries in Washington state, but also to the west coast for export,” said Sen. John Hoeven. R-N.D.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., had this to say about the DOT ruling.

“Washington’s legislation was an obvious example of overreach, not scientifically funded, and certainly could have ultimately driven their state refineries to foreign sources of crude oil,” said Cramer.

The Department of Energy submitted its report on the Sandia National Laboratory study to Congress on April 28.

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