Tag Archives: Spokane WA

‘Raging Grannies’ arrested after oil train protest

Repost from KREM2, Spokane WA

‘Raging Grannies’ arrested after oil train protest

By Bre Clark, September 02, 2016 9:36 AM. PDT

SPOKANE, Wash. – Three grandmothers were charged for obstructing a train on Wednesday. The three are known as the “Raging Grannies.” They blocked BNSF train tracks in protest because they want Spokane to stop oil and coal trains from going through downtown.

The grandmothers said they tried to talk to city officials about fossil fuels and fracking but when that did not work, they decided to protest.

“Even one person can stop a train it’s very easy to stop a train,” Raging Grannie Deena Romoff said.

Romoff and the other two “Raging Grannies” wrote letters and tried to get the Spokane City Council to stop oil and coal trains from going through downtown but the measure failed.

“People are getting frustrated that our government is not doing anything, that the world isn’t doing anything,” she said.

Romoff and several others decided to take matters into their own hands.

“When you have one city along the track that says ‘you can’t come through here,’ what happens? It stops,” she said.

BNSF railway officials said the protest group stopped 11 trains, one was fully loaded with coal.

“Even for that short period of time it gives us that much more time on this planet in my looking at it,” Romoff said.

The “Grannies” said their time behind the bars will not be in vain. They said they are joining forces with other environmental protests across the country and will go out every day if they have to.

“You don’t have to get arrested,” Romoff said. “You can be out there. If you believe in having a life for your children and your grandchildren”

BNSF said this in a statement in regards to ordinance to stop oil train operations:

“There are a number of better options to promote safety, including collaboration with industry and federal regulators to further enhance safety. We stand ready to work with federal, state, and local leaders to continue to improve safety while maintaining the efficient flow of commerce to and from Spokane.”

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Spokane City Council Nixes Proposed Oil And Coal Train Ballot Measure

Repost from Oregon Public Broadcasting
[Editor: Background: City proposes fining railroad.  Also, BNSF, Union Pacific lawsuit. – RS]

Spokane City Council Nixes Proposed Oil And Coal Train Ballot Measure

By Emily Schwing, Northwest News Network | Aug. 16, 2016 4:45 p.m., updated 6:56 p.m.
 In June, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier, Oregon.
In June, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier, Oregon. Northwest News Network, Emily Schwing

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 become a 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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Vancouver oil terminal hearings wrap up, decision expected late 2016

Repost from Hood River News

Gorge leaders oppose Vancouver oil terminal as hearings wrap up

By Patrick Mulvihill, August 5, 2016
ERIC STRID, of White Salmon, speaks out against an oil terminal proposed in Vancouver. Hearings before the state energy council wrapped up this week, marking a tonal shift as opponents and proponents await the council’s decision, expected in late 2016.
ERIC STRID, of White Salmon, speaks out against an oil terminal proposed in Vancouver. Hearings before the state energy council wrapped up this week, marking a tonal shift as opponents and proponents await the council’s decision, expected in late 2016. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Columbia Gorge

Gorge leaders spoke out against a proposed oil-by-marine terminal in Vancouver as hearings over the project’s fate came to a close July 29.

Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) heard closing arguments for an environmental review of the terminal proposed by Vancouver Energy, a venture spearheaded by Tesoro Corp.

EFSEC is charged with recommending whether Washington Gov. Jay Inslee should approve or reject the 360,000-barrel per day oil hub at the Port of Vancouver, and panel’s decision is expected in late 2016.

At Friday’s hearing — the final chance for public oral testimony — local elected leaders and environmental advocates evoked the recent memory of Mosier, where a crude oil bearing train derailed and caught fire on June 3.

Arlene Burns, mayor of Mosier, gave the panel a stark depiction of the aftermath.

“We’re really still exhausted,” she said. “This is going to be an ongoing, long-term process that we’re going to be dealing with,” Burns said.

She noted that Mosier’s groundwater had been contaminated by oil during the spill. Drinking water has been declared safe, but concerns remain for the rainy season washing out remaining oil in the ground.

Peter Cornelison, a Hood River City Council member and field representative for Friends of the Columbia River Gorge, argued the risks of a new terminal — and boosted train traffic — would affect all river communities.

Proponents of the terminal highlighted economic benefits and stressed a need for United States’ independence in the oil industry. They said the terminal would be held to regulatory safeguards.

“We believe the evidence has demonstrated that this project is necessary to secure a strong sustainable reliable supply of energy for the citizens of Washington,” Jay P. Derr, an attorney representing Tesoro, said.

“We ask the council to recognize and remember the benefits the Port of Vancouver provides, and work hard to avoid … hurting those structures and processes that allow the port to provide those benefits to the community,” said David Bartz, a port attorney.

Most testimony disagreed with the terminal’s backers about the project’s safety and economic value.

Washington Attorney General’s Office came out last week against the terminal. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the potential benefits of the project are “dramatically outweighed by the potential risks and costs of a spill.”

The cities of Vancouver and Spokane also voiced opposition, a sentiment expressed in recent months by letters and resolutions by tribes, advocacy groups and governments throughout the region.

Lauren Goldberg, staff attorney with Columbia Riverkeeper, said the local group hopes in light of the Mosier derailment, EFSEC will recognize the risk of another fiery oil train wreck in the Columbia Gorge.

Both sides in the issue will now file closing written briefs, ending testimony. EFSEC is expected to issue a decision in late 2016. From there, Inslee will make a decision that can be appealed in state supreme court.

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