They marched up the steps of Seattle City Hall using cardboard cutouts to represent an oil train.
Members of the group 350 Seattle were not there to protest the Seattle City Council, but to praise it. The group supports a council resolution that would push for more information about increasing oil shipments rolling down the rails through Seattle and increased inspections of rail cars and tracks.
Federal trade laws do not allow cities to do much to stop train shipments, but some council members said it’s time to speak up.
“I believe when you see cities like Seattle and Bellingham and Spokane and hopefully others throughout the region coming together and saying, ‘Hey this is a problem we want addressed’ and hopefully in other states around the country,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “That’s the kind of political shift that can really force the railroad companies to re-examine their business model.”
O’Brien and Mayor Ed Murray both announced support for the resolution before it was discussed Friday in the full council. Other council members have indicated they will support it if and when there is a vote to pass it.
The resolution discussion comes on the same day that federal regulators and railroad industry officials announced they have agreed on voluntary safety measures, which include increased track inspections and slowing down oil cars when passing through urban areas.
Critics say increased oil traffic along with rising levels of all freight on West Coast rails increases the chance for accidents, spills and fires.