Office of Governor Chris Gregoire
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - April 20, 2011
Contacts:
Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136
Department of Ecology, 360-407-7004

Governor signs landmark legislation improving Washington protection from major oil spills
Ecology-Puget Sound Partnership recommendations from 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill response align with bill

OLYMPIA – On the anniversary of the catastrophic April 20, 2010, crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed landmark legislation that significantly advances protection of Washington state’s environment, economy and cultural resources from the impacts of a potential major oil spill.

“Our state is already recognized for having one of the strongest spill prevention and response programs in the nation,” Gregoire said. “But the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster illustrates the importance of being as well prepared as possible for a major spill. This bill helps ensure that Washington gets the best tools and equipment to mount an aggressive, rapid and well coordinated response in the event of a major spill in Puget Sound and other waters of our state. We are the first state in the nation to pass significant new legislation in this area.”

Under the new law, oil companies that operate in Puget Sound, the outer coast and on Columbia River will need to invest in response equipment and personnel to provide continuous on-water oil cleanup activities – even at night and during fog and rain. If industry can remove as much oil on the water as possible during a major spill, adverse shoreline impacts can be reduced.

The legislation also ensures local resources like commercial fishing vessels and citizen volunteers are able to effectively participate in an oil spill response.

“Our citizens expect us to be able to respond quickly and effectively in the case of a large oil spill,” said Rep. Christine Rolfes, who was the prime sponsor of the bill. “To do so is key to protecting our quality of life and our economy here in Washington state, from the Columbia River to Puget Sound. This bill will help maintain our state’s evergreen legacy.”

“Unfortunately, a large oil spill in Washington waters is almost inevitable,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker. “This bill will keep us prepared, so when a spill happens, we can protect our coastal communities as well as the businesses that depend upon their functionality through a quick and effective response.”

House Bill 1186 is consistent with the unanimous recommendations of the Oil Spill Work Group convened by the Puget Sound Partnership—which includes industry, environmental, tribal, agency, local government and military leaders. It also applies important lessons learned from the catastrophe in the gulf, incorporating many key recommendations in a joint report released today by Ecology and the Puget Sound Partnership. At the governor’s request, the two agencies evaluated President Obama’s final national commission report about BP Deepwater Horizon spill. The Ecology-Partnership report and related information is available at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/studies_reports/ecypspreview-dwhcommissionreport.html

The BP Deepwater Horizon spill flowed for three months, eventually releasing an estimated 206 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The initial fire and explosion killed 11 people working on the oil platform and injured another 17.

The spill caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf's fishing, tourism and other industries. The full extent of the environmental and socio-economic impacts will likely not be understood for years to come.

She also signed the following bills into law:

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For more information:
Ecology's Spills Program (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/spills.html)