Politics Blog

DelBene, Larsen to take on exports, oil train safety

As the 114th Congress starts to pick up momentum, there are a few updates worth noting for our regional representatives.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, who represents most of Whatcom County, announced she has been appointed to serve on President Obama’s Export Council.

The advisory committee, made of lawmakers and business people, weighs in on international trade issues and policies that might increase U.S. exports.

From DelBene’s announcement:

“ ‘It’s an honor to be named to the President’s Export Council,’ DelBene said. ‘I look forward to representing Washington while working with labor, industry and business leaders to advise the President on ways we can increase U.S. exports, create good paying domestic jobs and support small businesses. It’s vital that our trade policies protect U.S. workers and the environment.’

Washington is the most trade dependent state in the country, with trade accounting for 40 percent of its economy. Exports touch several industries in the First Congressional District, including technology, agriculture, aerospace and medical equipment.

‘Exports are especially critical to Washington’s economic growth and prosperity,’ DelBene said. ‘Western Washington exports some of the world’s best airplanes, software, wine, dairy and produce. We should implement policies that allow more people around the world to buy our products.’ ”

DelBene joins Washington’s Eighth Congressional District Rep. Dave Reichert on the council. Some of the businesses represented include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, eBay, Xerox, UPS, Dow Chemical, Campbell Soup and Disney. A full list of members can be found here.

Meanwhile, Rep. Rick Larsen, who covers the rest of Whatcom County in Washington’s Second Congressional District, announced last week he would take a spot on the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

From Larsen’s announcement:

“ ‘People in Northwest Washington have shared with me their concerns over the last year about the increase in trains carrying crude oil on rail lines near their communities. These concerns about safety and traffic congestion make complete sense, and I share them too. That is why I chose to become a member of the (subcommittee).’

‘I spent the last year working with everyone I could ... I was able to connect first responders from our area with free trainings sponsored by the rail industry to help them understand how to handle a potential incident. And I pushed the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve the standards for tank cars carrying crude oil. Final rules should be out soon. Know that I will scrutinize them closely, and I am prepared to work with my colleagues on legislation if the rules are not strong enough.’ ...

The Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is in charge of writing rules to safely transport hazardous materials like crude oil, the Federal Railroad Administration, which governs railroad operations, and the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which governs disputes between shippers and rail companies.”