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May 11, 2020

Media Contact: Liz Brocker 701-328-2213

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued the following statement regarding the determination by the PHMSA that the state of Washington’s restrictions on vapor pressure for transportation of Bakken crude oil in that state are preempted by federal law:

“I am pleased that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration agreed with North Dakota’s position that the State of Washington does not have authority to regulate the unloading of Bakken crude oil by limiting the vapor pressure of the oil. An independent study of Bakken crude oil determined that vapor pressure is not a statistically significant factor in improving rail transportation safety. The study’s results did not support a need for creating a distinction for crude oils based on vapor pressure.”

In July, 2019, North Dakota and Montana submitted a joint petition to PHMSA, seeking to overturn a law passed by the state Washington setting vapor pressure standards on crude oil unloaded at refineries in its state that were significantly lower than accepted national standards.

The PHMSA determination issued today found Washington State’s requirement imposed requirements on the handling of hazardous materials that were not substantively the same as federal requirements, and amounted to “a de facto ban on Bakken crude.”

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For further background information see the July 17, 2019, news release

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