For Immediate Release
Contact: Carl Weimer (360) 733-8307 or (360) 815-4712
PIPELINE SAFETY TRUST NAMES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Bellingham, WA – The Pipeline Safety Trust announced today that it has hired local environmental protection leader, Carl Weimer as Executive Director.
A University of Michigan graduate with broad expertise in environmental policy and advocacy, Weimer has been an active member of the Whatcom County community for twenty years. As executive director of RE Sources, an environmental education and advocacy nonprofit in Bellingham, he led the organization from a staff of six to more than 40 over a ten year period, while increasing the organization’s budget by 900%. Throughout his career, Carl Weimer has proven to be a strong and effective advocate for environmental protection and more recently, through RE Sources’ SAFE Bellingham program, for pipeline safety. He will begin as the Trust’s Executive Director later this month and transition to full-time in August.
“I am honored and thrilled to have this opportunity,” declared Weimer. “The Pipeline Safety Trust represents a huge opportunity to move from the reactive mode that pipeline safety advocates have been in for years, to a proactive mode that can bring about real long-term change.”
Established in 2003, the Pipeline Safety Trust promotes fuel transportation safety through education and advocacy, by increasing access to information, and by building partnerships with residents, safety advocates, government, and industry, that result in safer communities and a healthier environment. Trust board members include Marlene Robinson, Katherine Dalen, Bruce Brabec, Skip Williams, and Breean Beggs.
The Trust came into being based on the efforts and recommendations of SAFE Bellingham and the families of Liam Wood and Stephen Tsiorvas who were killed in the 1999 explosion. SAFE Bellingham – a grassroots watchdog group concerned with pipeline safety – and the families fought for better pipeline oversight and accident prevention measures. These Bellingham residents made it their number one priority to organize a perpetually funded oversight organization to ensure safer pipelines nationwide. Much of the inspiration for the Trust is borrowed from a citizen oversight organization in Alaska that successfully changed oil tanker safety practices after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The need for the Trust gained written support from Washington Governor Gary Locke, the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission, the Washington State Citizens Committee on Pipeline Safety, many local governments, and pipeline safety advocates nationwide.
On June 18, 2003, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein ordered that four million dollars of the criminal fines imposed as a result of the Bellingham tragedy be awarded as an endowment to fund the Pipeline Safety Trust. Judge Rothstein noted that the Trust, with only 4 million dollars, was like “Bambi taking on Godzilla,” but she chided the pipeline industry to listen to and work with the Trust so tragedies like Bellingham do not happen again.
Board member Breean Beggs, who helped lead the Trust’s strategic planning effort, described the scope of the organizations mission, “The Pipeline Safety Trust will partner with others to make Washington State a model of fuel transportation safety and rational energy policies. We will share what we learn with communities nationwide and the Trust will be at the table as new federal policies are debated.”
“Carl Weimer is an excellent choice for the Pipeline Safety Trust’s leader,” said Carole Washburn, Executive Secretary of Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, Washington State’s lead pipeline safety agency. “Carl has facilitated a dialogue on pipeline safety issues with a very diverse group of participants. And he has done it in a nonjudgmental way. He’s fostered a good partnership between WUTC and SAFE Bellingham because of his understanding of the rules and interests of the stakeholders.”
RE Sources Board President Cindy Franklin said “Carl’s leadership at RE sources will be greatly missed, but we are so happy that he will be taking the pipeline safety initiative that RE Sources helped to create to a whole new level nationally.”
***** Save the Date – There will be a press event at 11am on June 10th, the anniversary of the Bellingham pipeline tragedy. Details will be sent out on 6/7/04. *****