Letters to the Editor

Letters - April 29, 2011

Puget Sound oil spills

Plans are in place

On the one-year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon’s five million gallon oil spill: local gas prices head toward $5 a gallon. Olympia’s legislative response: House Bill 1186 sponsored by state Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, to prevent “an ecological mega-spill catastrophe here in our Salish Sea.” The problem with the bill is the U.S. Coast Guard, state Department of Ecology, oil industry and shipping industry already have in place thorough and adequate oil-spill plans and spill-remediation equipment.

No amount of magic thinking can prevent an industrial accident. State legislators believe sharply increased fines, thicker on-the-shelf plans and additional staged equipment will ward off the “big spill” better than what we currently have in place. The bill is a costly and ill-considered remedy that demeans the professionalism of the Coast Guard, the department and private industry in providing for the greater public good and protection of our environment.

As a Coast Guard officer  I participated in Puget Sound oil-spill responses and industry spill exercises.  Our current oil-spill regulations are working and do not need reinvention.

Over-regulation in commerce and industry is the first cousin of over-taxation. Both kill free-enterprise innovation and economy. Washington residents call for economic relief, not higher fuel costs.

Olympia legislation must fast-track incentives to spur more refineries and gas supplies and resist misguided and duplicative regulations on an industry with a laudable Northwest safety record.


James M. Olsen
Bainbridge Island


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