Resources

Here is a link to an article explaining crude oil stabilization.  Please read the entire article to get the proper perspective.

https://www.desmogblog.com/2016/11/28/regulators-consider-crude-oil-volatility-limits-would-require-oil-stabilization

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See our calendar of Social Justice Events in Spokane here.

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Below is the full text of the proposed ordinance:

TO THE SPOKANE CITY COUNCIL

BALLOT TITLE

 INITIATIVE REGARDING PROHIBITION OF OIL AND COAL SHIPMENT BY RAIL

 SUMMARY OF THE MEASURE

 The Law as it Currently Exists:

Rail transportation of coal and oil is generally regulated by state and federal, which grants discretion to local regulations in certain circumstances. There is currently no City of Spokane law regulating or prohibiting the rail transport of coal or crude oil within the City.

 The Effect of the Measure if Approved:

If approved, this proposed ordinance would amend the Spokane Municipal Code to make it a class 1 civil infraction for any person or entity to allow a rail car that it owns to ship uncontained coal and some types of oil by rail through the downtown Spokane core, or within 2,000 feet of a school, hospital, or the Spokane River

ORDINANCE NO. C-___________

An ordinance relating to a prohibition against rail car owners allowing the use of their rail cars to transport highly flammable oil and uncovered coal through specific areas of the City of Spokane that pose an essentially local hazard not currently provided for in federal railway safety regulations; adopting a new section to chapter 10.08 of the Spokane Municipal Code.

Whereas, federal statute authorized pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution delegates to state governments the power to implement supplemental rail safety laws and enforce them with civil fines, specifically, 49 U.S.C. § 20106(a)(2)(A-C) and (b)(1)(A-C), which allows the enforcement of state laws concerning essentially local safety hazards created by rail traffic until such time as the Secretary of Transportation specifically addresses the unique and essentially local issue of transporting highly flammable oil in conjunction with uncontained coal through Spokane’s elevated rails in the downtown core and sole source drinking water aquifer; and

Whereas, the federal Ninth Circuit case of Union Pacific Railway Co. v. California Public Utilities Commission, (9th Cir. 2000) confirms that Congress has delegated its power under the Commerce Clause to the states for essentially local dangers, including the implementation of supplemental railway safety regulations and their enforcement with civil fines; and

Whereas, the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution allows local governments, such as the City of Spokane, to impose generally applicable regulations which mitigate and/or attempt to prevent the negative local health and safety consequences of the interstate transportation of goods. Huron Portland Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440 (1960), and the United States has further limited the reach of the Commerce Clause from interfering with essentially local issues of school safety and domestic violence; and

Whereas, the United States Constitution reserves rights for and grants un­enumerated rights to the States and the People to protect their health, welfare and safety, including residents of the City of Spokane, including but not limited to the language of Amendments 9 and 10, and federal law further obligates the City of Spokane to protect its wellheads from the danger of contamination; and

Whereas, Washington State Law requires the City of Spokane to provide drinking water safe from oil contamination to its water customers under, RCW 70.119A.060 and prohibits illegal trespass and nuisance on real property outside of a specified right of way; an

Whereas, the Washington State Constitution reserves rights of local control to the people and local jurisdictions and further directs them to protect property from unconsented nuisance and trespass and protect wellheads from potential dangers of contamination; and

Whereas, the City of Spokane has the duty to provide public safety, care for the health and welfare of its citizens within the city limits, and protect private and public property owners from trespass by contaminates such as uncontained coal from railway cars and the danger of leakage, explosion, fire, and trespass by Bakken crude and other highly flammable liquid petroleum delivered by railway cars; and

Whereas, uncontained coal railway cars distribute coal dust and rocks onto the rail tracks land beyond the right of way or permission granted to them while traveling through the City of Spokane, and this distribution of coal dust and rocks can constitute a substantial threat to the health, safety, and welfare of residents within the City of Spokane by increasing the likelihood of oil train derailments and infringement on the rights of property owners under state and local trespass and nuisance law; and

Whereas, the transport of some types of liquid petroleum, such as Bakken crude oil, by railway car within the boundaries of the City of Spokane, especially on elevated tracks in the downtown core contaminated by coal dust, is an ultra-hazardous activity that poses a grave and essentially local danger of fire and explosion to the health, safety, and welfare of residents of the City of Spokane, and this is a danger which has not currently been mitigated; and

Whereas, the Spokane River is connected to the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, which is the sole source of drinking water for residents of the City of Spokane and surrounding region; and

Whereas, seventeen schools have been identified to be within one mile of the potential blast zone, or the evacuation area, in the City of Spokane, including Lewis and Clark High School. Additionally, there are multiple medical facilities that would be impacted including Deaconess Hospital, Spokane Regional Health District, and Sacred Heart Medical Center; and

Whereas, on June 4, 2016, the day after an oil train derailment in  Mosier, Oregon, emergency crews found an oil sheen in the Columbia  River  near  the scene of the derailment and in July, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reported significant oil ground water contamination  from a well monitor near the accident;   and

Whereas, transporting highly flammable oil trains over elevated railways that are covered with uncontained coal dust through the most densely populated locale between the Bakken oil fields and Interstate 5 and also adjacent to the sole source drinking water aquifer for over 200,000 individuals is an essentially local hazard for which the Secretary of Transportation has not yet implemented safety rules; and

Whereas, the proposed regulations to restrict the owners of railway cars from permitting their cars from transporting oil with a vapor pressure of over 8 PSI and a flashpoint of under 73° F will cost less than four cents/gallon in oil conditioning according to the North Dakota Legislature and is thus not an undue burden on interstate commerce compared to the reduction in risk of harm; and

Whereas, the proposed regulations to restrict the owners of railway cars from permitting their cars from being used to transport uncontained coal is not unduly burdensome on interstate commerce because the cost of utilizing contained rail cars is extremely small per pound of coal based on the cost of the cars over their useful lifetime and any additional time in loading and unloading when compared to the reduction in risk of harm; and

Whereas, the proposed new section 10.08.068 to the Spokane Municipal Code is appropriate and necessary to provide for the public health, safety, and welfare by restricting the permissible routes for the transport of highly flammable oil and uncontained coal through the most critical areas of the City of Spokane; and

NOW, THEREFORE, THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF SPOKANE HEREBY ORDAIN:

Section 1. That there is adopted a new section 10.08.068 to chapter 10.08 of the Spokane Municipal Code to read as follows:

10.08.068  Authority; Intent and Purpose;  Prohibition

  1. The City’s charter, adopted under the authority of Article XI, section 10 of the Washington State Constitution, and the grant of police power contained in Article XI, section 11 of the Washington State Constitution, and the Constitution of the United States and federal statute authorizes the City to make and enforce regulations to protect the public health and welfare within the City of
  2. The City declares that the distribution of coal dust and rocks onto railway tracks carrying highly flammable oil trains is an inherently dangerous and ultra­ hazardous activity and essentially local danger, and the distribution onto private and government owned land outside any railway right of way within the boundaries of the City of Spokane is an illegal trespass and
  3. The City declares that the shipment of oil by rail is an inherently dangerous and ultra-hazardous activity and poses a grave danger that is essentially and uniquely local to the residents of the City of Spokane which must be
  4. It is unlawful for any person to operate or to permit railway cars to ship oil or uncontained coal in the following areas:
    1. Within a downtown zone, as designated on the official City zoning map (Downtown Core (DTC), Downtown General (DTG), Downtown South (DTS), and Downtown University  (DTU));
    2. within 2,000 feet of any school or hospital; or
    3. within 2,000 feet of the Spokane

For purposes of this section, “oil” means any petroleum substance having a vapor pressure of 8 psi or higher or a flash point below 73° F.

  1. The owner of a railway car may not permit the transit of its railway car for the shipment of oil or coal within the boundaries of the City of Spokane is a class 1 civil
  2. The owner of a railway car permitting such illegal transit of its railway car used to ship oil or coal within the prohibited areas of the City of Spokane described in SMC 10.08.068(D) is a separate violation.
  3. Each entity participating in the shipment of the above described oil or coal by rail within the City of Spokane in a manner prohibited by this section is guilty of a class 1 civil infraction.

Any portion of this section that is determined by a competent adjudicative authority to be illegal or pre-empted shall be severed from this section and the remainder of this section shall continue unaffected.

Section 2.  Sunset Provision.

This ordinance shall be reviewed by the City Council for consistency with evolving technological safety measures and best practices no later than September 1, 2020.