Monday, June 30, 2014

This week is off to a good start.

Lac-Mégantic, le 27 juin 2014

À/aux: La nation Quinault et associations de l'état de Washington (É-U) : d'Anacortes, de Seattle, de Grays Harbor, d'Olympia, de Centralia/Chehalis, de Vancouver et de Spokane, et autres, qui supportent les actions du 6 juillet 2014, ayant comme objectif d'exprimer leur solidarité avec les sinistrés de Lac-Mégantic, et aussi d'affirmer leur volonté qu'un tel drame ne se reproduise plus.
Les gens de Lac-Mégantic et des environs sont conscients des dangers que représente le transport sur rail du pétrole brut du Dakota du nord ou de l'Alberta. La tragédie que nous avons subie, et dont nous peinons à nous relever a été médiatisée à l'échelle planétaire.

Nous appuyons avec empressement et conviction les actions de solidarité qui seront prises dans plusieurs états et provinces de l'Amérique du Nord pour souligner la commémoration de la terrible tragédie qui est survenue le 6 juillet 2013,  à Lac-Mégantic (Québec), suite au déraillement du train 606 282 de la MMA.

Nous espérons que les communautés qui organisent la résistance ainsi que les conseils municipaux de Vancouver, de Spokane, de Seattle, d'Edmonds, de Bellingham et des autres villes concernées, soient entendues et que leurs craintes soient prises en considération.

 Il est donc indispensable qu'un moratoire soit imposé sur  le transport ferroviaire du pétrole brut, et que par conséquent, la santé, le bien-être et la sécurité de la population,  ainsi que la qualité de l'environnement soient effectivement assurés.

_____________________________        _____________________________

Jacques Gagnon                                                 André Blais
Comité citoyen de la région du lac Mégantic

Jacques Gagnon                                                 André Blais
Comité citoyen de la région du lac Mégantic

"To the Quinault Nation, to the organizations in Washington State and to the communities in Anacortes, Seattle, Grays Harbor, Chehalis, Centralia, Vancouver, Spokane and other communities who are creating actions on July 6th with the objective of expressing solidarity with the people of Lac Megantic and also affirming their desire that this type of disaster will never happen again:

"The people of Lac Megantic and its environs are well aware of the dangers of transporting North Dakota crude by rail. The tragedy that we have suffered is very well known.

"We strongly support the solidarity actions that will take place in many states in the United States and in Canadian provinces that will highlight the commemoration of the terrible tragedy that took place in Lac Megantic following the derailment of the MMA train 606 282.

"We hope that the communities that organize the resistance and the municipal councils of Vancouver, Spokane, Edmonds, Bellingham and other concerned cities will be understood and their fears be taken into consideration so that a moratorium will be imposed on such practices so that the health, well-being and security of the population and environment will be protected."
Traduction by: Dan Leahy

Pipeline proponents consider explosives in ocean to scare whales from potential oil slicks

The proponents of two controversial pipelines to British Columbia’s coast say they would consider deploying underwater firecrackers, helicopters and clanging pipes, among other methods, to ensure whales don’t swim toward any disastrous oil spill that might result from increased tanker traffic carrying bitumen to Asia.

Police arrest anti-oil protester in Northwest Portland

via OregonLive

Police arrested a 22-year-old Portland woman on Monday who was attached to a barrel of concrete in a protest against oil trains and the burning of fossil fuels.Police were dispatched about 6 a.m. to remove Irene Marjorie and the 55-gallon barrel off the tracks at the ArcLogistics terminal in industrial Northwest Portland. About a dozen protestors gathered next to the train tracks to show their support of Marjorie and express their opposition to oil.The protest was staged by a group called Portland Rising Tide. One of its members, Scott Schroder, said the action was part of an effort to "shift the narrative about oil trains away from the fact that they occasionally explode in derailment to the fact that when oil is burned, it causes far greater harm to communities."

We brought cardboard boxes to the Parade. Aberdeen brought this:

Washington Department of Ecology – NEWS
via DOE
June 27, 2014
Lisa Copeland, communications, 360-407-6990@EcySW
Scott Ferguson, project manager, 360-407-7465
Consultant selected for oil transportation study
State awards contract to address environmental concerns
OLYMPIA – Work continues on a study to analyze the impacts of marine and rail oil transportation in Washington state with a contract signed between the Department of Ecology and Environmental Research Consulting (ERC) of New York.
Ecology was tasked with conducting the study in the 2014 Legislative session through a budget proviso and is working in consultation with the Department of Transportation, Utilities and Transportation Commission, Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division, the Federal Railroad Administration, and tribal governments.
ERC has been awarded a $250,000 contract to work closely with Ecology’s technical team and diverse statewide stakeholders to produce a complete report that looks at the current and anticipated transportation and safety pictures for marine and rail. The report will also identify any gaps in the oil spill prevention, preparedness and response system.
“We received a number of bids from excellent organizations,” said Scott Ferguson, project manager for Ecology. “ERC was selected for their years of experience providing environmental and oil spill analysis, reputation as a leader in the environmental field, and their in-depth knowledge of the issues we need to delve into to produce an informative, thorough study.”
The oil transportation study and report from ERC will:
·       Inform recommendations for public health, safety and environmental concerns.
·       Contain a statement of safety benefits vs. the cost of implementation.
·       Offer recommendations for funding programs.
·        Provide a risk communication strategy.
Gov. Inslee has issued a directive requesting initial findings and recommendations from the study by Oct. 1. The final report is due March 1, 2015.
“It’s our job to provide the best information possible to inform the governor and the Legislature,” said Ferguson. “To do that we’ll need everyone’s input and will be seeking community and citizen input each step of the way.”
More information about oil transportation in our state is available on Ecology’s website. People can also sign up to receive the Oil Movement newsletter for periodic updates.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

DOT-111 Parade Floats

I'll update this as I gather more pictures.

5/17 They aren't very heavy to carry over from the Bike store across the street, but when a gust of wind hits you, it can really shove you around.
28" box with end flaps removed, ready to be scored into 7" panels.

5/18 I can only get 2 endcaps per box. Luckily, LaVogue Bike Shop is happy to not have to put the flats into his recycle dumpster.

Here they are with the head holes cut out.

5/19 Waiting for the paper packaging tape so I can glue these together. Taps toe impatiently.
5/21 The tape finally arrives late Tuesday, so I start taping on Wednesday.

Nothing like waiting for your tape to dry...

 I will be taping on the inside, and then down the long score folds to 
reinforce them.

I've left the bottom flaps free, the wheels will attach there somehow. I'm thinking pin-wheels from the dollar store spray painted black. 
Any other ideas for wheels?

 Arnie models a tanker for us

6/7 Paint Party!!!

Laminated contents labels and veg platter wheels are attached:

6/28 The Big Day!
Aberdeen Founder's Day Parade
And it's pouring! We make quick with the tarps:

 Soggy, but ready to go!

 Looks like a derailment!

Thanks to Gary for this video!

Tori, at our Info Booth!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday News

Ocean City Commissioners Forum

APNewsBreak: Oil train dangers extend past Bakken

via KIRO7
The Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — 
The dangers posed by a spike in oil shipments by rail extend beyond crude from the booming Bakken region of the Northern Plains and include oil produced elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada, U.S. safety officials and lawmakers said.
Acting National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart said all crude shipments are flammable and can damage the environment — not just the Bakken shipments involved in a series of fiery accidents.

Pipeline prospects take a hit as Supreme Court grants land title to B.C. First Nation

via Financial Post
Canada's Supreme Court hands down a shocking unanimous decision upholding First Nations' aboriginal rights that predate colonialism. The Tsilhqot'in Nation v. British Columbia ruling has special significance in B.C., nearly all of which was never ceded by treaties, and where First Nations have been blockading oil pipelines and other resource extraction projects.

What Happened in Last Summer's Oil Train Disaster in Quebec That Killed 47

Details of the events leading to last July's oil train disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, have been made public for the first time. They reinforce an existing portrait of the accident as a perfect storm of corporate malfeasance.The information comes from a freedom of information request by the Montreal English-language daily The Gazette and the French daily Journal de Montréal. The two newspapers obtained a 29-page document prepared by Quebec provincial police in its application for a search warrant of the offices of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) several weeks following the disaster.On the night of July 5-6, 2013, an un-crewed runaway crude oil train derailed and exploded in the center of the town of Lac Mégantic, killing 47 people.

With 18 oil trains weekly, Columbia River Gorge is the key route for Pacific Northwest's crude-by-rail

BNSF Railway Co. notified Washington authorities that it hauled 19 oil trains through Klickitat County in one week between May 29 and June 4, the state's most heavily traveled route. All but one continued on through the gorge to Clark County, en route to Seattle and Portland.At that pace, nearly 1,000 oil trains would move through the Columbia Gorge annually. That could grow to almost 2,500 trains a year – carrying between 70,000 and 90,000 barrels of oil apiece -- if a major Vancouver oil train terminal proposed by Tesoro-Savage is approved. And that doesn't include crude oil from Utah hauled by Union Pacific on the Oregon side of the gorge.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Canada’s high court sides with First Nations in land rights case

Case involving indigenous tribe could have far-reaching effects on logging and fracking

Al Jazeera June 26, 2014 
Canada's top court has sided with a British Columbia indigenous tribe in a case that could have wide-reaching implications for land disputes over traditional aboriginal territories.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday in favor of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, a tribe of 3,000 in the remote interior of the Canadian province, in a battle over a swath of land long sought for commercial logging.

The court decision hinged on the meaning of the legal term “aboriginal title,” which refers to the land rights held by aboriginal peoples as a result of long-standing use and occupancy.

Until now, the top court hadn’t made it clear how those rights could be measured....<snip>

....Government, industry and aboriginal groups had been anxiously awaiting the ruling, which could ultimately have an effect on whether development projects can go forward in areas where aboriginals have not signed away land rights.

These could include the Northern Gateway pipeline, a planned project that would ship oil from the Alberta tar sands across British Columbia to the Pacific Coast.

It could also shape the outcome of a fight over shale gas extraction on traditional Mi’kmaq territories near the Elsipogtog First Nation in the province of New Brunswick, said Gordon Christie, director of the University of B.C.'s indigenous legal studies program.....

read entire article here

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Crude Export Ban

         AFP Photo / David Mcnew

US set to allow crude oil exports after four decade ban

via RT
The US Commerce Department has given the go-ahead to several companies to export crude oil, a big policy change essentially ending a ban in place for the last four decades. At question is whether the end of the ban will mean higher prices at the pump.
Ultra-light oil, often referred to as 'condensate' by the energy industry, will be cleared to be exported abroad, according to a private ruling by the federal government impacting Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Product Partners LP, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday, and In Otter News

Ask The Governor a Question

via KCTS9
KCTS 9 is collecting questions for Washington Governor Jay Inslee for our upcoming 60-minute Q&A show. Send in your questions in advance or during the live broadcast on Wednesday, June 25, 7pm – 8pm.
 *Please bear this in mind when phrasing your questions:

 If the Governor allows someone representing a specific business project to talk to him, then we could go to court to sue because, by law, he is supposed to wait for the EIS.
 And conversely. To avoid that legal challenges from industry, phrase the questions without reference to a specific projects (or projects in general).  Otherwise, his answer will be evasive. Here are some questions I'd ask, if I got called on. 1.  Do you agree with these two statement. 
  • It is urgent to reduce existing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases.
  • We should not be building more infrastructure which will sustain or increase those levels.

2.  Should we be building additional facilities for oil trains before the new federal safety standards are implemented?

King County Council passes measure to address risk of oil trains

The King County Council on Monday unanimously passed legislation directing emergency officials to study the risks of transporting oil products by rail and to prepare for possible accidents.“We have seen the tragic results of catastrophic oil train derailments in other regions. With shipments of Bakken formation crude on the rise through King County, we must be prepared,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, author of the motion and chairman of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, in a media release. “It is important that we are ready to respond to any disaster that may threaten lives, our environment, or cause major disruption to our regional economy. King County is home to the spine of our regional rail infrastructure, which is critically important to our shipping and manufacturing sectors.”

Oil Spin in Colorado Dumps 7,500 Gallons

A storage tank that was damaged due to floodwaters leaked over 7,500 gallons of crude into Colorado’s Poudre River close to Windsor, covering vegetation downstream more than a quarter of a mile. However, it does not seem to have affected drinking water said state officials on Friday.The riverbank where the tank was sitting was undercut due to river flows being high causing it to fall and break a valve, said the Department of Natural Resources.

BC's Rising Oil Spill Risk Threatens Otters: Washington State Report

New risks from Canadian oil tanker spills confront the 1,100 sea otters living around the Olympic Peninsula, said an internal report of March 2014 by the Washington State Ecology Department.The otters live from Point Grenville to Neah Bay on the rocky and perilous west coast of the state, about half of them around Destruction Island. Their cousins who share the Salish Sea north of the B.C. border are considered an endangered species in Canada.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Meeting update and Thursday News

This next week's Coalition Meeting is Cancelled- instead,

We need to cancel the GH Coalition for Infrastructure meeting on June 26, because there is a County Commissioner candidates' forum to be held at the Ocean City Fire Station, north of Ocean Shores on the 26th at 6:30pm.  We are all encouraged to attend.  Two of the candidates are against CBR - Al Smith and Jim Heikel.  The third candidate, Vickie Raines, tells a different story depending on to whom she's talking.

Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods calls for moratorium on oil trains: North and NE Portland news roundup

The Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods board has called for a statewide moratorium on oil trains after a vote earlier this week. In a letter sent to Governor John Kitzhaber, the board cited "deep concern" about "the threat to life, safety and the environment due to accidents, potential spills and explosions posed by oil trains" passing through Northeast Portland and the rest of the state. The board represents 12 neighborhoods from North and Northeast Portland.

Oakland votes to keep coal and oil trains away

via Grist
 The working-class city of Oakland, Calif., wants to stop trains carrying crude, coal, and petroleum coke from reaching local refineries and export terminals.The city council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to “oppose” the “transportation of hazardous fossil fuel materials” along existing rail lines and through “densely populated” and waterfront areas — which includes much of the city.

Feds: Oil train details not security sensitive

via SF Gate
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. transportation officials said Wednesday that details about volatile oil train shipments are not sensitive security information, after railroads sought to keep the material from the public following a string of fiery accidents.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered railroads to give state officials specifics on oil-train routes and volumes so emergency responders can better prepare for accidents.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kevin's Oil Spill

The new oil crisis: Exploding trains

These dangerous moments on the rails raise questions about the safety of transporting increasing amounts of oil in mile-long chains of tank cars, some of them decades old. Community leaders and activists from Oregon to Alabama to Albany call the trains a disaster waiting to happen — 

5 times Canadians were utterly misled about the Northern Gateway pipeline

 via PressProgress

What better time to take a trip down memory lane about Enbridge's PR department's most misleading blunders. 
Their friends around Harper's cabinet table also made their fair share.
Here's a recap of five of them.


via VICE

The derailing of four tank cars loaded with a flammable, explosive oil product, and the lack of safety measures when they were put back, has left some residents of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia wondering if their safety is being properly guarded. The native lands are in the midst of the cluster of more than 60 oil and chemical industries known as “Canada’s Chemical Valley”—an area that VICE released a documentary on last year.The four cars, part of a nine-car train, came off the tracks on a short rail spur leading from Suncor’s Sarnia refinery May 2 while travelling at low speed, but stayed “upright and intact,” confirmed Suncor spokesperson Nicole Fisher. The cars were fully loaded with toluene, a refinery product being sent to a company called Parachem in Montreal. Toluene is a natural part of petroleum, and is a flammable and explosive liquid with a sweet, pungent odour that evaporates quickly in air, according to information from Health Canada.

Read more here:

Washington residents rail against oil shipments

via KOMO4
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Numerous speakers told a state Senate committee Tuesday that they oppose the rapid increase in railcars carrying crude oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota and Montana through the state.
The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee met in Spokane, a major railroad hub for the northern United States, to take testimony on a bill that seeks to improve the safety of those oil shipments.
But nearly all the members of the public who spoke attacked the measure as too friendly to the oil and railroad industries.

Fire experts push special teams for oil train blazes

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A pair of Texans with decades of firefighting experience are encouraging state and local government leaders to consider establishing SWAT-like response teams for crude oil train fires.
A series of derailments of trains loaded with crude oil in the past year has exposed numerous safety vulnerabilities, including the integrity of the rail cars, the condition of the tracks and the way the trains are operated.
It’s also revealed a yawning gap in emergency response. Most fire departments across the country are simply not trained or equipped to fight the enormous fires seen in recent derailments.

Six homes near Buhl evacuated after train derailment

TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, AL -The Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation for six residences near Sipsey Valley Road and 16000 Crosscut Drive after a train derailed earlier this afternoon. 

According to the TCSO, a train carrying oil derailed this afternoon. None of the oil has spilled, but anyone within 1,000 feet of the derailment has been ordered to leave due to the threat of fire. 

Residents were allowed back to their homes shortly after 4:15 p.m. 


UPDATE: According to a spokeswoman from ABS Railroad, 7 cars went off the tracks around 3:00 Monday afternoon, near Sipsey Valley Road and Crosscut Drive in the Buhl Community. Six of those cars were carrying crude oil and one was transporting paper.

Texas Oil And Gas Regulator Bans Its Staff From Talking To The Media
via Think Progress
Texas is one of the top oil- and gas-producing states in the nation. But if you’re a member of the media, don’t expect to get an interview with the people who regulate the industry in the state.
That’s because the agency in charge of regulating Texas’ oil and gas industry has barred its staff from talking to the media, instituting a policy that instead funnels all media requests through a spokesperson, who doesn’t allow reporters access to agency officials. As the AP reports, the Railroad Commission of Texas, which is one of the largest state agencies of its kind in the country, approved a policy barring staff from talking to reporters in August, about a year after the agency’s new executive director Milton Rister, a former aide to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, took office. A spokesperson for the Railroad Commission of Texas told the AP that the decision to bar staff from media interviews came from Rister. Before Rister took office, the AP reports, Railroad Commission staff were regularly available for interviews.

Protect Whatcom: Fossil Fuel Transport Through WA:

Protect Whatcom 

see site for full size graphic

Fossil Fuel Transport Infographic

Monday, June 16, 2014

After oil, natural gas may be next on North American rails


File photo of Irving Oil workers inspecting rail cars carrying crude oil at the Irving Oil rail yard terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick

Irving Oil workers inspect rail cars carrying crude oil at the Irving Oil rail yard terminal
By Edward McAllister
NEW YORK (Reuters) - As politicians debate the dangers of a massive increase in oil carried by rail in North America, railroads and energy producers are considering the same for natural gas.
Buoyed by the unexpected success of crude by rail, companies are beginning to consider transporting natural gas as remote drilling frontiers emerge beyond the reach of pipelines, executives said.
Natural gas by rail is years away and likely to face strong public resistance after a series of explosive crude-by-rail accidents. But the potentially multibillion-dollar development could connect gas-rich regions like North Dakota with urban centers, presenting an opportunity for railroads, drillers and tank car makers already cashing in from hauling oil on trains.
It could also be a cure for environmentally unfriendly flaring, a growing problem......continued here

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Grays Harbor Citizens Speak Out Against Crude

ED NOTE:  The editor of the Vidette recently penned an editorial for the newspaper concerning the “anonymous” supporters of bringing in the proposed oil trains to Grays Harbor.  It was not without a certain amount of controversy.  Some took issue with his giving status to those unwilling to sign their names.   Today, June 12th, 2014, a group of approximately 50 local Grays Harbor citizens met at the Furford building in Aberdeen Wa., for a talk by Knoll Lowney, an attorney, who spoke on the legal issues surrounding the coming oil trains.  We will be posting that meeting in another posting.
After the meeting, I asked those willing to come up to the camera to introduce themselves, say a bit about their opposition to the oil trains.  The video could have gone on much longer….but I think the point is made.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Bursting of the Bakken Bubble?

It's time for a federal Emergency Order.

and on June 13, 2014   Sightline Daily

“Should an incident occur within or near a densely populated area … an incident … has the potential to be truly catastrophic and result in billions of dollars in personal injury and property damage claims. The damages potentially resulting from an exposure could risk the financial soundness and viability of the rail transportation network in North America.” The Association of American Railroads (AAR), Submission to Transport Canada, January 2014.
Bakken crude oil production has many of the classic characteristics of an economic bubble. It looks likely that, as with every bubble before, it will end. Whether it ends catastrophically or just badly depends on how regulators act.

Some of the primary features of a bubble include a very rapid market expansion based on an unrealistic assessment of underlying risk, lax regulation, and an overly optimistic belief in continued rapid growth..... the same might be said for shipping huge amounts of explosive shale oil in unsafe, poorly insured tank cars through hundreds of populated areas: the risks are obvious but poorly hedged, and the enterprise can result in tremendous negative consequences for communities. In a realistic worst-case scenario, the Bakken oil train bubble bursting catastrophically could jeopardize the viability of the North American rail transportation network.     read more here

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thursday News

California Braces for Explosion of Oil by Rail Shipments

via Common Dreams 
The mountains and cities of California are about to see an explosion in the number of trains carrying fracked Bakken crude oil through the state. And according to a report (pdf) released on Tuesday, both the federal government and industry have done little to protect citizens from the "potentially serious risks" of such oil transport.
Further, despite requests from state energy officials, railway companies have provided "limited data" to the state and have "vehemently resisted" sharing information regarding oil shipments with the public, claiming that such knowledge is a "trade secret," the Sacramento Bee reported on Monday.

Washington studies risk of oil trains in state

via KGW TV
The governor on Thursday issued a directive to several state agencies to study the risk of accidents along rail lines, assess the relative risk of Bakken crude oil and begin developing oil spill response plans for affected counties.
Governor Inslee's entire remarks are at Montesano Today

Train catches fire, leaks oil in McDowell town

NORTHFORK (WVVA) - A train caught fire while traveling through McDowell County Tuesday, spilling oil and filling part of one town with heavy smoke.
McDowell County 911 says the initial call came in at 1:36 p.m. Tuesday.  Firefighters tell WVVA News the train initially caught fire and began smoking in Keystone but was unable to be fully stopped until Northfork, near the town hall.
Witnesses say the smoke was very thick, and impaired visibility. A spokesperson for Shupster's restaurant said the business was forced to close due to the smoke. Vehicles in town were said to be covered in oil.
Oil was also said to be leaking into Elkhorn Creek.
Multiple crews battled the fire. A Hazmat crew was also called to scene.
No injuries were reported. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wednesday links and action!

 Petition to sign
if you are not on Lynne's weekly email list, please sign this petition to receive timely updates. Ask all your friends to sign! When she hits 10K, she will print a hard copy for Gov Inslee.

Harper and Enbridge's Massive Angry Inch Problem
via Dogwood Initiative
Just before the meeting ended I addressed the elephant in the room, which we had only been circling around until then. I told him, “You are aware, aren’t you, that Enbridge has to get approvals from the feds and province, Enbridge has to get all the affected communities and First Nations on side, and then Enbridge has to build approximately 1,173 km of pipeline through some of the most difficult terrain ever attempted. In contrast, all we, the opposition, have to do is to stop one inch.”
His response was illuminating. CEO Daniel told me, “I’m painfully aware of that.”


Oil Train Concerns

via Q13Fox  Video!

Minnesota town issues traffic tickets to BNSF railroad

via KARE11 Video!

"Last year the delays became worse, an average of 45 minutes," Hodge said. "It's not uncommon for people to sit and wait that long for a train to come across."

Hodges said that when city officials held a meeting with railroad executives to discuss the delays the streets were tied up for more than 40 minutes.

He called it a public safety issue because there are no real options for fire trucks and emergency vehicles to get around the trains in a hurry. The rail line dissects the town into two sections. The fire department and the hospital are south of the tracks, while the ambulance service and long-term senior housing is on the north side.

"We've had a fire on one side of the tracks, fire department on the other side of the tracks, they can't get to the fire," Hodge explained.

So far the tickets issued to BNSF add up to about $1,200, but the railroad is fighting it. The railroad will send representatives to court in Willmar June 19, in an effort to argue that federal rail regulation trump state traffic law.

Coal export facility could get state subsidy

via Portland Tribune
The port is seeking $2 million in state funds for each of two projects to allow its 70-year-old docks to accommodate the latest ocean-going ships, instead of barges. These are known as Panamax-class ships, which will be able to navigate a widened Panama Canal.
The Columbia River dredging project, which deepened the channel from 40 to 43 feet, was completed in 2010.
The Berth 2 reconstruction project would be matched with $3 million from Ambre Energy, the Australian company seeking permits to ship coal mined in Wyoming's Powder River basin to Asia. The money would be put up by a subsidiary, Pacific Transloading. 
The Berth 1 extension project would be matched by $4.6 million from Global Partners, owner of Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery, whose plant is next to the dock. The project would allow greater shipments of ethanol and crude oil.