Coal and oil trains pass through Spokane daily, but that could change by the end of the year. Spokane’s city council will take public testimony Monday on a proposed ballot initiative that would prohibit coal and oil shipment by rail through specific areas of the city.
The city council is scheduled to decide whether voters can prohibit oil and coal shipment by rail within 2000 feet of Spokane’s hospitals, schools and the Spokane River.
Last summer, the city council pulled a similar initiative from the November 2016 ballot, because of concerns about cost to taxpayers, if it faced a legal challenge.
Last fall a hearing examiner questioned whether the ballot initiative is constitutional. He pointed to several cases all the way to the Supreme Court that show state and local laws are routinely preempted by federal law.
Sponsors have opted to proceed based on a number of provisions outlined in state law.