On Wednesday, Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly criticized the efforts of Republicans in Congress to turn Puget Sound into an oil super-port, by repealing the Magnuson Amendment’s 28-year ban on supertankers. The subterfuge came in the Orwellian named Gasoline for America’s Security Act of 2005, a cynical effort by the oil industry to exploit the post-Katrina surge in gas prices to shrug off decades of environmental regulations.
Today Connelly writes that the provision has been axed, after bipartisan pressure from WA state’s congressional delegation.
Before the provision’s eleventh hour deletion, Jimmy at the Tri-City based blog McCranium reminded us that Eastern Washington has a stake in protecting the environment too, suggesting that it was an opportunity for Rep. Doc Hastings, who sits on the House Rules Committee, to “show some real leadership.”
But alas, Hastings was silent as usual, leaving it to Western Washington’s lone Republican, freshman Rep. Dave Reichert, to join Reps. Jay Inslee and Norm Dicks in pressuring the Republican leadership. And no doubt House Speaker Dennis Hastert also found Sen. Maria Cantwell’s threat of a Senate filibuster quite persuasive.
Lifting the restrictions, Cantwell wrote, “would expose Puget Sound waters to an unacceptably increased risk of future oil spills.”
Cantwell reminded Hastert that federal law allows Washington to import only enough crude oil to serve state needs. In reality, the state refines slightly more than it needs and exports most of the surplus to Oregon and California.
“It would be a most outrageous result were the House to pass legislation that puts the Puget Sound at risk, for the benefit of oil companies who seek only to export the additional supply needed to lower domestic fuel costs,” Cantwell wrote “Such a result would take the notion of post-hurricane profiteering to a whole new level of shamefulness.”
And in case Hastert missed the point, she added: “I want to stress to you, Mr. Speaker, that because this issue is extremely important to me and to millions of constituents that live around the Puget Sound, I will use all tools in my power to stop this provision from becoming law.”
As Connelly writes, “it still pays to raise hell,” and fortunately, WA’s congressional delegation still has a few hell raisers.