Campaign tele-briefing on Spokane ballot measure imposing fines on coal, oil train traffic

Tomorrow the campaign opposing Spokane’s Proposition 2 will hold an important tele-briefing on the measure. We wrote about it in June, saying,

These patchwork, selective efforts to disrupt trade threaten our state economy. The double standard on rail is simply another attempt to bend regulatory processes to advance other agendas…Our state continues to be a study in economic contrast, with the metro Puget Sound region thriving while much of the rest of the state struggles. A selective approach to regulation will exacerbate the current divide; increasing trade and commodity exports will extend economic opportunity to communities across the state.

The Association of Washington Business posted on the tele-briefing yesterday, providing pertinent details.

… representatives from the Committee to Protect Spokane’s Economy will host a tele-briefing Thursday, Aug. 17, at 10 a.m., to discuss the coming effort to educate Spokane voters on the importance of defeating Proposition 2. An RSVP is required to participate in the call.

Speakers on the tele-briefing will include:

  • Michael Cathcart, Campaign to Protect Spokane’s Economy
  • Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich
  • Steve Warren, IAM&AW District 751
  • Matt Ewers, Inland Empire Distribution Systems, Inc.

While this is a local initiative, it’s a measure with statewide significance. KWC provides perspective in this June report, which noted.

Last fall, the city’s own hearing examiner, Brian McGinn, reviewed the measure, calling it both “illegal” and “unenforceable.” Under the proposal, the shippers of oil and coal would be fined $261 per car and would be banned from moving the product through the city limits. Federal law considers railroads “common carriers,” requiring them to move fossil fuel products, among other commodities.

In July, the Spokesman-Review covered the city council debate on the measure.

In a statement issued by the pro-trade group Keep Washington Competitive, Spokane Mayor David Condon and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich panned the proposal, warning of potential lawsuits that would cost taxpayers.

“I am deeply concerned about what this could do to our city and our economy, with no evidence that it would help our environment or safety,” Condon said in the statement. “This measure goes against independent legal review and sets the city up for significant, costly legal challenges that would divert already limited resources from programs and initiatives focused on areas that this attempts to address.”

AWB notes,

As the debate continues this fall, it’s worth noting that it’s not just the legality and economic impact of the ballot measure being questioned.

AWB President Kris Johnson pointed out in his weekly email July 28 that rail is a critical piece of the state’s and nation’s low-carbon transportation infrastructure and that banning the rail shipment of any commodities through communities would only serve to increase carbon emissions as those goods are moved onto freight trucks traveling Washington’s roadways.

We encourage anyone with an interest in learning more about this damaging proposition to join the tele-briefing by sending an RSVP to Michael Cathcart at 509.999.8315 or mcathcart@protectspokaneseconomy.com