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Spokane City Council Nixes Proposed Oil And Coal Train Ballot Measure

In the wake of Friday's derailment, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called for a temporary moratorium on oil train traffic in the Columbia Gorge.
Emily Schwing
/
Northwest News Network
In the wake of Friday's derailment, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called for a temporary moratorium on oil train traffic in the Columbia Gorge.

A measure that was added to the November ballot less than a month ago would have imposed fines on rail cars transporting fossil fuels through the heart of Spokane. On Monday night, the city council opted to withdraw it.

Council President Ben Stuckart said weeks of further review raised questions about whether the measure he co-sponsored could stand, were it to face a legal challenge.

“I don’t think that’s a good use of the citizen’s dollars,” he said.

In the weeks since the measure originally passed, Stuckart said a conversation about how to more safely transport fossil fuels has gone region-wide.

“A couple other cities have contacted us and they’ve suggested that we form a regional group here in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington to try to work through these issues and see how we can affect state and national policy,” Stuckart said.

The measure itself was prompted by a number of accidents involving oil trains since 2012. In June, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

On a near-daily basis, oil trains pass through the heart of Spokane past two major hospitals, a handful of schools and across an aquifer that serves nearly half a million people.

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Copyright 2016 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.