(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray has included $1.6 million in the Senate Transportation Appropriations bill for oil spill prevention efforts in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The funding in the Coast Guard's budget could be used to help the State of Washington pay for a rescue tug at Neah Bay.

"One of the most significant obstacles to providing increased protection against oil spills in the Strait of Juan de Fuca has been money," said Murray. "This federal appropriation will remove that obstacle. Now the Captain of the Port has the resources and can use his judgment to focus on how best to protect those waters."

Murray wants to ensure that strong protections are in place to prevent oil spills caused by tankers and cargo ships approaching the Olympic Peninsula and passing through the Strait of Juan de Fuca on their way to ports in Puget Sound and Canada. Tankers are only required to have tug escorts once they reach Port Angeles.

"Like many people in Washington state, I strongly support protecting the pristine beaches and abundant wildlife in this beautiful region," Senator Murray added. "The State Legislature has provided $1.4 million for a dedicated tug at Neah Bay next winter. The $1.6 million I am providing to the Coast Guard continues the federal and state partnership to prevent oil spills from accidents involving marine vessels in the Strait."

In 2001, the State Legislature provided $1.5 million for tug to be stationed at Neah Bay during winter months, and the previous year the state spent $1.65 million on the effort. It would cost about $3 million to have a dedicated tug stationed there year round.

In 1999, Senator Murray helped secure $1 million from the federal government for the tug to be in place from December of 1999 until June of 2000. The state provided $100,000 and an additional $400,000 was available from damages from the Tenyo Maru oil spill settlement.