U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is championing a measure to help first responders prepare for an oil-by-rail spill or explosion.
On Friday morning, she listened to local fire officials express the challenges they face, from understaffing to limited financial resources, and their desire to develop regional coordinated responses for hazardous material incidents.
The measure Herrera Beutler is advocating would direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to consider grant requests for hazmat operations, including training and planning, a priority.
Herrera Beutler called it a “common-sense definition change” that should gain approval.
The Camas Republican noted there are federal funds available for equipment, but coordinating and planning haven’t been prioritized to the same degree.
“So, we said, ‘Great, let’s change the definition and allow you to be able to apply for and get planning dollars that help you coordinate, in case we have, God forbid, a major spill,’ ” Herrera Beutler said.