Greater Spokane Incorporated has officially come out against Proposition 2, a ballot measure that would fine rail shipments of oil and coal through Spokane.
GSI’s board of directors recently voted to oppose the measure, which will be on city voters’ November ballots.
“As the Spokane region’s largest business development organization, GSI is focused on creating a thriving economy, protecting jobs and making our region competitive,” Todd Mielke, GSI’s chief executive, said in a news release. “Adding additional regulations and fees hurts our business community and our economy.”
The law would fine the owners of rail cars carrying uncovered coal and oil $261 per car, with an exception made for cargo that has been treated to reduce combustibility.
Mielke said the initiative could also create a costly legal challenge for Spokane, noting the city’s legal counsel was doubtful the fines could be enforced under federal law, which gives federal agencies regulatory authority over freight trains crossing state lines.
Proponents of the measure say it’s a public safety issues for Spokane, where oil and coal trains travel daily through the city. Spokane Councilman Breean Beggs, who provided much of the language for the petition, argues there is a legal window for local governments to regulate rail safety where there is a localized threat and federal agencies have been silent.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.