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Spokane Voters To Decide Whether Trains Can Carry Oil And Coal Through The City

File photo. Spokane voters will decide in November whether to allow the shipment of coal and oil by rail through the city.
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File photo. Spokane voters will decide in November whether to allow the shipment of coal and oil by rail through the city.

Spokane voters will decide in November whether to allow the shipment of coal and oil by rail through the city. The city council voted in favor of a special election in November.

Supporters of the ballot initiative say shipments of coal and oil by rail through the city pose a health risk because of coal dust and pieces of coal that fall from the uncovered cars as they travel. They also argue that because oil shipped by rail can be highly volatile, those shipments pose a serious safety risk to the public.

Opponents say blocking the shipments would be detrimental to the economy. They also voiced concerns about the cost to taxpayers.

There are questions about whether the initiative might be challenged in court if voters pass the it this fall. If the measure succeeds, it would be the first time an American city regulates shipments of oil within its limits.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.