Local news

In brief: Empire Builder sees cancellations

SATURDAY, DEC. 14, 2013

Cold weather and heavy rail traffic have forced cancellations of five runs of the Empire Builder passenger train from St. Paul to Spokane, Seattle and Portland on BNSF Railway lines.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the cancellations, which began on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday.

Eastbound trains were canceled Wednesday and Friday with a third eastbound cancellation expected Sunday.

Westbound traffic was canceled for Thursday and today.

Amtrak was contacting passengers to help them rearrange plans.

Cold weather has slowed switching mechanisms and caused mechanical problems on trains, the Star Tribune said.

Judge considering $15 wage challenge

SEATTLE – A King County Superior Court judge heard a challenge to the voter-approved $15 an hour minimum wage requirement for airport workers in SeaTac, but says she won’t rule on it immediately.

Judge Andrea Darvas says she’ll issue a ruling with reasoning before Jan. 1.

Opponents say the requirement will hurt business and reduce employment. Supporters say workers need higher pay to make a living.

Washington has the nation’s highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

The measure’s implementation is Jan. 1.

More dam energy part of treaty talks

PORTLAND – The United States will seek to keep more of the energy produced at dams on the Columbia River as part of the position it staked out for potential negotiations with Canada over a treaty governing hydropower and flood control on the river.

The final recommendations, sent by U.S. regulators to the State Department on Friday, also call for making ecosystem improvements a third primary purpose of the treaty, in addition to flood control and production of hydropower.

The treaty, which was signed in 1964 and governs operations of dams and reservoirs on the fourth-largest river in North America, has no expiration date. But either country may cancel it or suggest changes beginning in 2024 with 10 years’ notice.

The U.S. position is that it should pay dramatically less for the benefits it gets through the treaty.


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