The U.S. Senate late Wednesday night unanimously approved a Coast Guard authorization bill that includes a major overhaul of federal fishing-industry safety laws, and measures to prevent Puget Sound oil spills.
The bill was expected to be approved by the House of Representatives and sent to President Obama for signing.
"It has been nearly four years in the making to get this important legislation through Congress," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wa., who chaired a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the legislation. "This bill establishes new safety laws on oil-spill prevention and fishing vessel safety so that we can continue to operate in these pristine waters in a safe and effective manner.
.... The oil-spill provisions will include measures to expand oil-spill response capabilities around the entrance of Strait of Juan de Fuca and increase the role of Indian tribes in the response effort. The legislation will result in oil-spill response equipment, including booms and barriers, positioned along the strait.
Approximately 600 oil tankers and 3,000 oil barges travel each year through Puget Sound and carry about 15 billion gallons of oil to Washington refineries, according to Cantwell.