Voters to decide if Spokane should fine coal, oil shipments
Jul. 25, 2017
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Voters in Spokane will decide in November whether the city should fine railroad operators for certain coal and crude oil rail shipments through its downtown core.
The Spokane City Council voted Monday night to put the citizens' initiative to voters rather than passing it.
The Spokesman-Review says the ballot measure, if approved, would make rail shipments of uncovered coal or highly flammable crude oil a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $261 per rail car.
Opponents warn of costly, legal challenges. They say the measure is pre-empted by federal law since the federal government regulates railroad operations.
Supporters say it's about protecting public safety and insist the measure doesn't conflict with federal laws.
Spokane, which sees up to 19 oil trains a week, is the latest community attempting to assert its local authority in the fight over fossil fuels.