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Congressional bill to help first responders in Bakken oil incidents becomes political
An emergency preparedness bill that would investigate the best way for local first-responders to react to a railroad crude oil spill is on hold in Congress. Mike Simonson reports.
While both of Wisconsin’s senators support it, they don’t see eye to eye on the legislation.
The Response Act would simply form a panel to decide the best way to respond to a rail tanker incident involving North Dakota Bakken crude. Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin says it’s needed in Wisconsin because that oil is transported across 18 counties about 45 times a week.
“We have these volatile liquids coming through our communities at a rate we’ve never seen before and I have heard volumes from folks along the railway, folks who are along the path of a planned-for pipeline saying ‘We need to be prepared’.”
But Baldwin says the bill was derailed at the last minute.
“Regrettably, there was an attempt to politicize the issue by adding an amendment that would approve the Keystone pipeline.”
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson sponsored that amendment. He says while it did involve Keystone, it would have looked at the safety of all pipelines.
“Pipelines are not 100% safe by any means. There’ve been spillage, there’ve been accidents. There’s been deaths associated with pipelines just as there has been with rail. Let’s get all of the information so that we as a nation can come to the right conclusion on how to safely transport this oil.”
Baldwin says the Response Act is seen as bi-partisan in both Houses. Johnson disagrees.
“Democrats don’t want to vote on anything that they think might be politically unpopular that might upset their control of the Senate.”
Both believe the bill will come up again once the August recess is over.
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