OLYMPIA – A bill that would tax oil companies to help fund a permanently stationed Neah Bay rescue tugboat has passed out of committee in the state House of Representatives.
“It expands funding for the tug in Neah Bay and provides more money for disposal of derelict vessels,” said Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, who along with Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, and 21 other lawmakers are sponsoring the legislation.
Van De Wege, Kessler and Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, represent the state Legislature’s 24th District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and a third of Grays Harbor County.
The intent of the bill – called Substitute House Bill 1488 – is to enact recommendations of a 2006 oil spill advisory council for preventing and responding to oil spills throughout the state’s waters, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.
Van De Wege said the bill expands the tax charged to oil companies, “which I didn’t mind, given the profits they’ve been making.”
“It also gets the tug out there all year round,” he said.
“It’s a big deal.”