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Spokane Voters Say No To Local Coal, Oil Train Regulation

File photo
Wikimedia -
File photo

Voters in Spokane, Washington, are saying no to an initiative regulating coal and oil shipments through the heart of the city. The initiative would have fined companies that ship uncovered coal and certain types of oil through the city.

Railway and oil companies like Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and Tesoro, funded Better Spokane’s campaign opposing the measure. Michael Cathcart, the group’s executive director, said the vote should lay the issue to rest. 

“It is not a local government issue,” he said. “It is a federal issue and that’s where it belongs.”

Opponents argued rail shipments are governed by federal law and that the initiative was unlikely to withstand a legal challenge. 

But supporters say the fight is not over. 

“There are possibilities such as a statewide initiative,” said Jim Lee, who led the grassroots campaign for Safer Spokane. “We’re convinced that the idea is legal and enforceable.”

Lee and others say coal and oil cars pose a safety risk to the city. For now, trains carrying both will continue to travel through Spokane daily.

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.