Posted by: sweeneyblog | April 26, 2014

Fact Checking Sen. Doug Ericksen

I’m alive! Sorry for the unscheduled blogcation, I started doing some work for Landmark Property Management and it has been a consuming endeavor. However, I am back with another round of fact checking, this time on the Republican senator from the 42nd.

A recent letter to the editor of the Bellingham Herald criticized Sen. Doug Ericksen for his lack of legislative progress this session. Ericksen, to my surprise, actually responded to the letter in the comments section. I’ve attached a screenshot below.

Click to enlarge

Ericksen’s comments in the Herald

Sadly, his response is not quite accurate even though  he closes it with, “I appreciate Carol bringing these issues forward so that we can clear up some of the misinformation.” In that vein, let’s see if I can clear up some of the misinformation that has been put forward by Ericksen.

Oil by Rail Spill Prevention: For this issue, I turn to local environmental expert, Matt Petryni, who has followed this issue very closely:

First off, two of the bills Ericksen references, SB 6567 and SB 6582 were also blocked by the Republican Senate majority, something he should know because one of them, SB 6582, was blocked by him personally in committee.

A third bill isn’t even legislative but a joint memorial — a symbolic statement that merely asks Congress to bring safer tank car standards. We all agree they should do that, but this gesture shouldn’t be heralded as some kind of leadership on Ericksen’s part.

This brings us to the question of his dramatically watered-down bill. What he leaves out in his comments is that his own bill was blocked by the Republican Senate majority because Ericksen and the rest of the leadership knew there was bipartisan support to strengthen it.

Senator Rolfes tried to amend the bill to include the reasonable and overdue safeguards the House approved with bipartisan support, so to prevent these amendments from having a chance, the Republican Senate chose to kill their own bill rather than protect our communities from the harmful and explosive risks associated with oil by rail transport.

Doug Ericksen

Sen. Doug Ericksen

Capital Budget: Ericksen fails to mention they did not pass a capital budget this year. A failure that costs us jobs. Capital budgets fund construction projects, mainly building schools, hospitals and government buildings. Because Ericksen and the Republican majority kicked the can down the road on the capital budget, there will be another year without these projects being started, another year without paychecks for our struggling blue collar workers and another year of our public employees having to work in substandard situations.

Ericksen had an opportunity to vote on the capital budget but instead blocked it from coming up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Education Funding: Ericksen may brag about the token  increases to education funding, far short of the mandate from the state Supreme Court. This year, the legislature rummaged around in the couch cushions and found some pocket change for education (a little over $100 million), but nowhere near the billions necessary to meet our constitutional (and moral) obligations to fully fund education. Repairing our educational system in Washington will require real leadership not empty rhetoric and half-measures.

What he does NOT mention: Most surprisingly, there is no mention of the transportation budget. Once again, the Republican-controlled state Senate has refused to pass a transportation budget. One only has to watch our crumbling bridges and cracking roads to see how important this budget is to our safety and economic prosperity. Similar to the capital budget, the transportation budget is made up of shovel-ready jobs. This is not funding some bureaucratic agency or new program, just building and construction, and Ericksen and his caucus blocked it. Again.

With few sources for news about the legislature, Ericksen could just offer up these sorts of comments and they would be taken as gospel; but dig a little beneath the surface and Ericksen’s votes and inaction tell a different story.



  1. “Senator Rolfes tried to amend the bill to include the reasonable and overdue safeguards the House approved with bipartisan support,” ack.html

    “Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, said he was prepared to add amendments to Senate Bill 6567 that would have let the Department of Ecology collect better data on rail shipments from oil refineries. But Ericksen, who has close ties to the oil industry and has a refinery in his hometown, lacked votes from his caucus to bring the oil-fee measure to a floor vote – as long as Ranker and fellow Democrats were pushing amendments.”

    Read more here: ack.html#storylink=cpy

    From: The Political Junkie Reply-To: The Political Junkie Date: Saturday, April 26, 2014 10:32 AM To: Kevin Ranker Subject: [New post] Fact Checking Sen. Doug Ericksen sweeneyblog posted: “I’m alive! Sorry for the unscheduled blogcation, I started doing some work for Landmark Property Management and it has been a consuming endeavor. However, I am back with another round of fact checking, this time on the Republican senator from the 42nd. “

  2. I am shocked SHOCKED at Douggies obfuscation and prevarication and and… did I mention shocked? I think he has not been eating well of late. Someone pony up and get some food into that poor public servant less his motivation for doing the public’s bidness wane.

  3. Riley,

    This is an excellent post! Sen. Ericksen IS doing his job – he is blocking any real safety improvement for his real supporters — oil companies and BNSF.

    The Bham Herald recently ran 3 excellent articles on oil trains. The BNSF bragged a few weeks ago about about all their corporate investments in track and oil tank cars. About $112 million of those investments will be in WA state and BNSF will continue to run unsafe tank cars for at least 5 years while phasing in the new “safer” tank cars. The Bham Herald article: Canada orders old oil rail cars gone in 3 years” article called even these CPC-1232 “not adequate for crude oil service.”

    Also there is the lack of a real coordinated emergency response plan if one of these oil tank cars explodes in Ferndale or goes into the sound south of Everett due to a mud slide (162 slides in 2013). I believe it has been 4 years of clean up from the spill into the Kalamazoo river in Michigan.

    The last issue is the increased toxic vapor releases from each of these oil tank cars which is not monitored as the cars travel thru WA state, sit off the mainline north of Division and First St. in Mt. Vernon, or while being unloaded at a refinery in Anacortes. I believe that I sent you a video of these vapors being released in Vancouver, WA.

    Best wishes, Tom Gilmore

  4. To add to Tom Gilmores comment about tank cars parked along the mainline North of Division. These cars are parked on a sharp curve and under I-5. A recipe for a great disaster involving the potential for the loss of many lives and a transportation nightmare much greater than the bridge collapse at the Skagit River crossing.

  5. Riley,

    Excellent work on Ericksen’s record.

    Does the Sierra Club, Conservation Voters, etc. track Sen. Ericksen’s environmental voting record. Just how bad is his environmental record compared to other legislators? Is he in the bottom 10%? 20%? Has he sponsored anti environmental legislation? Where does his campaign money come from?


  6. […] years, considering his main role in the Senate has been to block good ideas from getting to a vote. Whether it is a state transportation budget, or meaningful environmental protections or even his own bills, Ericksen has been unable or […]

  7. […] his study in March 2015.” Strong words and shows the growing need for a real safety plan – unlike the empty rhetoric offered by the man in charge of environmental legislation for our state, Sen. Doug […]

  8. […] hit his main points of criticism, Ericksen’s efforts to block all the bills relating to rail safety and his budgeting gimmicks about education. “My opponent cites the fact that they found a […]

  9. […] Locally, the news seemed even more crushing. Environmental champion Seth Fleetwood got hammered by Sen. Doug Ericksen. Ericksen made headlines for the last two years for accepting more free meals from lobbyists than any other state legislator and blocking all climate change and oil safety legislation. […]

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