President Barack Obama said the federal government plans to strengthen regulations regarding oil train safety.
Obama made the remarks during a brief interview with KGW-TV's Laural Porter, who was invited to Washington, D.C., as part of a round of local television interviews on Thursday. The president's interviews focused on the importance of exports and trade to the American economy.
Obama told KGW that the Department of Transportation is talking to all stakeholders to strengthen and secure how oil-train cars are passing through the region. A spill in the Pacific Northwest, Obama said, "could end up having a devastating effect on some of our most beautiful landscapes."
Obama said strong energy production is good for jobs and business, but "that requires some strengthening of regulations that are currently in place."
The president also addressed the recent shutdowns at West Coast ports. He said he had sent his Labor Secretary to resolve the standoff, but it would take time to work through the backlog.
Asked if he could help keep Hanjin — the South Korean shipping company that is the Port of Portland's largest container carrier — from terminating its service, as the company recently announced, Obama said his administration would "definitely talk to the folks in South Korea."
Obama was also asked about Oregon's former governor John Kitzhaber, who resigned earlier this month amid an ethics scandal surrounding him and his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes. The president wished Kitzhaber the best, but he said "ultimately the people of Oregon have to have confidence in their leadership."
Obama did have some advice for Oregon's new governor, Kate Brown: "Try to get some exercise, it's good to relieve stress," he said.