Trump Administration Preempts Washington State’s Crude-By-Rail Law

May 11, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Representative Kelly Armstrong issued the following statement today on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) preempting Washington State’s crude-by-rail law:

“We thank the Administration for doing the right thing by putting sound, scientific evidence above partisan politics. We also appreciate the tireless advocacy of Governor Doug Burgum and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. 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. 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.”

On April 28, 2020, the Department of Energy submitted its report on the Sandia National Laboratories Crude Oil Characterization Research Study to Congress, which found Bakken crude has comparable physical, chemical and combustion characteristics as crude from the Permian Basin and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The study underscores the Trump Administration’s decision to overturn Washington’s law, which would have served as a de-facto ban on Bakken crude oil in the Pacific Northwest.

The North Dakota delegation previously made the case for preemption to PHMSA and to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. They also wrote to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, outlining the law’s lack of a scientific basis or solid legal foundation.

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