WA Ecology Dept. now fears salad oil as much as crude oil
The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) has found a new villain.
Tossed on your salad greens.
DOE doesn’t see vegetable oil as any less of a threat to the environment than crude petroleum oil. And they are ready to act on their latest fears.
The agency proposed in mid-January that short-line railroads in Eastern Washington that haul animal fats and vegetable oils will have the same requirements as interstate crude oil carriers.
Railroads that haul vegetable oils already must follow rules set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
But apparently the state didn’t trust the EPA to control all their imagined hazards associated with transporting closed containers of Saffola.
DOE has given no evidence that food oils have caused environmental damage, or are any conceivable threat that requires new regulations.
Our legislators had their chance
The legislature failed to pass a bill this year excluding animal and vegetable oils from the crude oil rules. Those rules had been designed to control hazard associated with Bakken crude oil being transported to Washington refineries.
In floor speeches last year, legislators talked about fiery derailments, unstable oil-producing countries in the Middle East and the ingenuity of North Dakota oil producers.
No legislator mentioned animal fats or vegetable oil.
Without legislative action, DOE will propose a rule April 6 for petroleum and non-petroleum oils, agency spokeswoman Lisa Copeland said.
“Safety is not just about people, it’s also about the environment,” she said.
The rule is scheduled to become final in October.
Patrick Boss, a lobbyist for short-line railroads in Eastern Washington, said he raised the question last year, but nobody said the law would apply to food-based oils.
“Everybody should have taken it more seriously,” he said. “Hindsight is 20/20.”
This new rule will invariably increase transportation costs.
It will also increase costs for Washington’s farmers who grow vegetable oil crops, like canola, soybeans, and safflower.
With little wiggle room left in most farmers’ tight budgets, these additional costs will also need to be passed on to consumers.
Ecology’s perennial target of their rules – low income families
Apparently nobody at DOE thought about the low income people who would be hurt the most by their new rules.
Vegetable oils are an inexpensive and critical source of essential fatty acids and Vitamin E, especially for low income and elderly people who can’t afford pricier foods and supplements with those nutrients.
These beneficial oils have already seen price hikes.
Increased environmental regulations invariably lead to even higher prices at the checkout.
DOE is not required to consider these kinds of impacts when writing strict new regulations.