Seattle field hearing addresses natural and coordinated threats to energy infrastructure

Published on August 18, 2016 by Alyssa Michaud

Maria Cantwell

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz led a field hearing on Monday that focused on the threat of accidental, malicious and natural threats to the security of the U.S. energy infrastructure.

“The United States is experiencing a dramatic transformation in how we produce, transport and consume energy,” Cantwell said. “Many of those are positive changes, whether it comes from the grid or cleaner sources of energy consumers get more efficient and low-cost alternatives to meet their energy needs. But, we also know that these changes can also produce greater stress on our transportation and infrastructure. The energy industry along with federal, state and local governments must work closer together on these challenges – from updating our energy infrastructure to satisfying the demands for reliable, safe and affordable energy.”

Cantwell presented data from the DOE’s emergency planning exercises, discussing the impact of a natural disaster caused by the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where the threat of a magnitude 9 earthquake looms large for the Pacific Northwest.

Further discussion centered on the safe transportation of crude oil by rail, given that oil trail traffic has increased more than 100-fold over the past five years.

“Cities like Vancouver, Spokane and Seattle are very concerned about the safety of these oil trains and the high profile incidents that have occurred across the nation, including the derailment that happened in Mosier, Oregon,” Cantwell said. “Twenty-six cities in our state have already passed resolutions expressing concern or outright opposition to oil trains.”