SPOKANE, Wash. - Dozens concerned citizens gathered in downtown Spokane Tuesday evening to share the message that they don't want oil and coal coming through the Spokane community. They were there to raise concerns about a proposed increase in train oil transportation through the Spokane area.
The Department of Ecology held a public hearing Tuesday evening on initial findings from its Marine and Trail Oil Transportation Study, which looked at public health, safety, and environmental impacts of oil and coal transportation. The ralliers came forward to express their concerns at the public hearing.
"Oil trains are dangerous," said King County Executive Dow Constantine, "they can leak, they can catch fire. There have been explosions that are tremendously dangerous to people and property. Second, they take up space that could be used by people here producing agricultural products, manufactured products being shipped from Montana, Idaho, Eastern Washington to the ports, and that capacity that we're losing is costing Washington State jobs."
Those opposed say an increase in oil and coal trains through Spokane will have dangerous impacts to the environment and the local economy.
"When oil trains and coal trains come through our community, that displaces local products," Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said. "Right now, we export $1.8 billion worth of agricultural product out of Eastern Washington, and when I've met with federal regulators, oil and coal trump agricultural products, so it takes longer for our product to get to market."
The group marched from Riverfront Park to the Double Tree Inn where the public hearing was held.