Portland moves against oil trains

City Council passes resolution barring any more trains carrying crude oil.

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The Portland City Council passed a resolution Wednesday barring any more trains carrying crude oil.

The commissioners voted in front of a standing-room only crowd at City Hall.

The contentious topic has pitted environmentalists who want dirty fuels to be a thing of the past against economic development hawks that see sizable financial investments and job creation in things like propane pipelines and natural gas terminals.

The battle landed in City Hall Wednesday, where sign-carrying activists gathered outside as Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Amanda Fritz proposed their joint resolutions. The hearing garnered so much interest that city officials needed to open an overflow room to accommodate the crowd.

(SOURCE: Portland Business Journal)

The council tabled the second resolution until Nov. 12.

The resolution calls for using existing laws to address environmental impacts of oil trains, and to ask railroad companies to share their plans and address safety concerns. But it can’t stop oil trains from coming through town because the city doesn’t have jurisdiction over railways.

Nonetheless, Commissioner Nick Fish said the vote expressed the council’s support for safety and clean energy. “While this action is largely symbolic because federal law preempts us from interfering with railroads and so much of the constitutional law goes against us, part of our job as a City Council is to be explicit about our values, even if our authority is limited,” he said.

(SOURCE: OPB/EarthFix)

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