Resolution 2014-22

A Resolution stating the City of Hood River’s concerns and opposition to
the transportation of crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge


WHEREAS, the City Council and Mayor under the Hood River City Charter have the authority to protect the health, safety and general welfare of its citizens and have determined that the transport by rail or barge of crude oil is contrary to the health, safety and general welfare of its citizens; and

WHEREAS, the City is committed to being a leader in protecting and sustaining
the community, the local economy, the environment, the air quality, the water
quality, and drinking water supplies, as well as reducing carbon emissions in the
Columbia River Gorge; and train derailments can lead to crude oil spills that pose a
significant public health risk; and

WHEREAS, because the rail alignment runs through our downtown area, the impact
of existing and proposed oil trains is potentially catastrophic in terms of loss of
life and devastation of The City of Hood River community, environment and economy; and

WHEREAS, oil tank cars are moving through the Gorge now and the volume is
projected to increase dramatically [according to the Association of American
Railways (AAR) the volume of crude oil shipped by rail has increased from 9,500
carloads in 2008 to 400,000 carloads in 2013], all of it destined to existing or
proposed oil terminal facilities in the Northwest; and most of it unusually explosive
[According to the Federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
(PHMSA)], making an even greater hazard due to the extreme fire danger from
high winds and dry forests in the Columbia Gorge; and

WHEREAS, tar sands crude or bitumen from Alberta and Utah is known to be
extremely difficult to handle; if a derailment and spill occurs the oil would sink into
Northwest rivers making clean-up difficult, if not impossible; and

WHEREAS, derailment poses a significant threat for which we lack a specific
emergency response plan; and

WHEREAS, the City experiences strong and steady job growth due to our
exceptional quality of life, attracting people who can move their companies
anywhere in the world; this growth and quality of life is endangered by intensified
crude oil transport through the Gorge; and

WHEREAS, the City oversees the operation of the Hood River police and fire departments, which are responsible for maintaining order and emergency response within our city limits and through a series of mutual aid agreements assists in emergency responses throughout much of the gorge, on both sides of the Columbia River; and

WHEREAS, the Governor of Oregon’s Preliminary Statewide Rail Safety Review of
July 2014 and the Washington State Legislative Board of the Brotherhood of
Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen’s letter of August 2014, in response to the
Governor of Washington’s Washington State Marine and Rail Oil Transport Study,
cite concerns about the risk to public health and safety of crude oil trains because
of faulty operational practices, inadequate maintenance, poor federal regulatory
oversight, and lack of accountability in all areas of railroad operations management; and these factors are more likely to cause accidents and derailment; and

WHEREAS, the City and other local jurisdictions charged with protecting our urban
centers, farm lands, river systems, economic viability, and our natural environment,
struggle to maintain our Fire Fighters and First Responders, and in January 2014
the National Transportation Safety Board stated that communities will bear the cost
of cleaning up spills and explosions, the transport of increasingly large volumes of
crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge places an unacceptable burden on us
that we are unwilling and refuse to accept; and

WHEREAS, since January 2013 in the United States and Canada, ten catastrophic
derailment incidents involving explosions, spills and death have occurred that have
harmed other communities and could occur in our towns, on our farm lands and in
our river systems; in July 2010, an oil spill caused more than 1 million gallons of tar
sands crude to flow into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, much of which sank to the
river bottom and still remains today after $1 billion in clean-up efforts; according to
the PHMSA more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail
incidents in 2013; and in 2013 through early November, there were 137 crude
releases as compared to just one in 2009; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is designating new
safety standards and requirements for oil tank rail cars and evaluating potential
new rules for the transportation of flammable liquids; and the increase in the
production of Bakken crude oil has placed such a demand for tank cars that 92,000
DOT-111 cars (designed 50 years ago but not to contain crude oil) are being used
to transport flammable liquids, with only approximately 15% of those tank cars
built to the latest industry safety standards (as yet unproven as safe), in contrast to
the Canadian government, which has ordered the phase-out of the use of these
puncture-susceptible DOT-111 tank cars; and

WHEREAS, oil tank cars built since 2011 meet the new CPC 1232 standard, the AAR
“now supports even more stringent standards…retrofits of existing cars…and an
aggressive phase-out of cars that cannot meet retrofit requirements”; the design of
those new cars is unsettled and does not have a proven record of safe utilization
(one of the tank cars that ruptured in Lynchburg, Virginia was a CPC 1232 tank car
and was traveling 24 mph, well below the recently agreed upon 40 mph speed limit
for urban areas, causing a spill, explosion and fire and resulting in the evacuation of
a portion of the downtown area and the spill of 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the
James River); and

WHEREAS, Union Pacific plans to increasingly move mile-long trains of crude oil and
bitumen from Utah on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge (according to
the Oregon Department of Transportation); the number and length of proposed
trains transporting the oil will affect local emergency response capabilities by
blocking road crossings; and diesel exhaust from the trains will increase air pollution and affect public health, causing lung damage, worsening allergies and
asthma, and increasing the risk of lung and cardiovascular diseases.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Hood River opposes transporting
crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge either by rail or by barge; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City supports economic growth that does not
jeopardize the City of Hood River’s commitment to fight the serious impacts of
climate change; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City strongly urges the Governor of Oregon and
the Governor of Washington to use the powers of each state to oppose crude oil
transport through the Columbia River Gorge; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City agrees with the concerns expressed in the
July 2014 resolution passed by the Columbia River Gorge Commission; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City urges the Federal Government to
immediately implement safety regulations regarding train speeds and rail car
designs which have not been proven to safely transport flammable crude oil; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the cited hazard and potential damage require that
the owners and operators transporting crude oil by rail or barge assume all risk and
be sufficiently bonded and insured; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City requests that the railroad submit an
emergency environmental clean-up plan in case of a derailment affecting our
community, local economy, watersheds and recreational areas; and the City further
insists that the railroad and barge transportation of crude oil be fully insured
against the risk of catastrophic fire and explosion, loss of life and property,
environmental destruction and damage and any other harm connected with a
derailment or accident; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City requests that an Environmental Impact
Statement that identifies and measures the impacts on our community be
completed prior to approval of permits; that at least one environmental impact
scoping hearing be held in Hood River and the results of continued environmental
monitoring of noise, air, groundwater, and surface water quality be shared with local and state agencies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City urges the State of Oregon to require
coordination of state agencies concerning the state’s preparedness and capacity to
respond to an accident involving transportation of crude oil by rail or barge; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City transmits copies of this resolution to the
Governors of Oregon and Washington, to the Columbia River Gorge Commission, to
the County Commissions of Hood River, Wasco, Multnomah, Klickitat, Skamania,
and Clark counties, to each state Senator and Representative in both Oregon and Washington whose districts fall within the Columbia River Gorge, to the Oregon
Division of State Lands, to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, to the
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, to the Oregon State Fire Marshal, to the
Oregon Department of Transportation, to the Washington Department of Ecology, to the Washington State Fire Marshal, to the Washington Department of
Transportation, and to each member of the Congressional Delegations of Oregon
and Washington; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that passage of this resolution shall not preclude the
City from taking additional future actions to protect residents from the effects of oil
trains or barges.

Approved by The Hood River City Council this 8th day of December, 2014, to take
effect immediately.


                                                                           _____________________________
                                                                           Arthur Babitz, Mayor
_________________________
Jennifer Gray, City Recorder