The decision on whether to fine the owners of coal and oil trains that pass through downtown Spokane will likely be up to voters.
According to the Spokesman-Review, the Spokane County Elections Office yesterday reported the initiative, first proposed last year by Spokane’s City Council as a way to prevent potential fiery derailments, had enough signatures to appear on the November ballot.
The Spokane City Charter says that if a measure receives verified signatures from a group equaling greater than 5 percent of the number of votes cast in the previous general election, the City Council must either pass it as is or submit it to voters.
If passed, the initiative would levy a $261 fine against the owners of cars carrying uncovered coal and untreated oil.
The railroads, area pro-business groups and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich have all spoken out against the proposal, saying it is a potentially illegal regulation of commerce that is prohibited by federal law. The proposal targets the owners of rail cars and specifically uncovered coal trains to prevent dust on the tracks and oil that is not treated to reduce combustibility.