BNSF reaches out to Blaine City Council in wake of recent measures proposed in Spokane

By Stefanie Donahue

This week, Blaine City Council reviewed an email sent in from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) that urged the council to refrain from voting to outlaw shipments of oil and coal by rail.

The outreach comes in the wake of Spokane City Council’s recent decision to offer a public vote on a ballot measure that could prohibit the shipment of oil and contained coal by rail in locations throughout the city.

BNSF, a freight transportation company that spans 28 states and three Canadian provinces, emphasized that the proposed measure is unenforceable under federal law and costly for taxpayers.

Proposals for bans on crude oil and coal-based transport have popped up throughout the country. Proponents for such laws argue that increased transport would increase traffic congestion and have negative impacts on the environment; opponents consider the laws detrimental to job growth and local economies.

BP’s Cherry Point Refinery ships nearly 230,000 gallons of crude oil per day by pipeline, tanker and rail, said Pam Brady, BP’s director of northwest government and public affairs. On Monday, city council made no comment on the written correspondence from BNSF and expressed no interest in pursuing a similar measure to Spokane at the August 8 meeting.

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