Spokane voters reject 'unenforceable' crude oil and coal ban

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SPOKANE, Wash. — A proposition to start fining railroads moving uncovered coal and oil through Spokane failed at the ballot box on Tuesday.

According to preliminary results, Proposition 2 was turned down by local residents during the municipal election 58.3 percent to 41.6 percent.

A grassroots environmental group called Safer Spokane had put the initiative forward earlier this year. The group argued that the bill was about keeping the community safe from oil train derailments and coal dust, but opponents to the effort said it was unenforceable and would have had a negative impact on the economy.

Both BNSF Railway and Union Pacific frequently move coal and oil through the Spokane area.

Local leaders, including Spokane’s mayor and the Spokane County Sheriff, came out against the proposition early on.

"With the city’s own legal advisors saying for more than a year Proposition 2 was unenforceable and potentially illegal, a ‘no’ vote was the only responsible way to avoid costly lawsuits that would waste city resources from more important things,” says Michael Cathcart, spokesman for the Committee to Protect Spokane’s Economy.
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