Speaking out against oil trains

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21st District Rep. Strom Peterson spoke out against oil trains during a rally held outside the Lynnwood Convention Center, before the public comment period. (Photo by David Pan)
21st District Rep. Strom Peterson spoke out against oil trains during a rally held outside the Lynnwood Convention Center, before the public comment period inside. (Photo by David Pan)

About 300 people attended an open house and public comment session Monday at the Lynnwood Convention Center that addressed a proposed railroad project at the Shell Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes.

The planned project would accommodate up to six trains per week that would deliver crude oil to the refinery, replacing crude that is currently received at the facility by ship.

Those providing comments during the three-hour scoping meeting Monday shared concerns over environmental, safety, public health, climate change and traffic issues that they say would result from the additional crude oil tanker trains that would run on BNSF railways in the Puget Sound area if the rail project in Anacortes is approved.

Monday’s meeting drew people from Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit, Island and Whatcom counties in addition to a few public office holders from the local area. Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson, speaking during the public comment period, urged Skagit County and state officials to “analyze on a regional scale” the impact of the rail project in Anacortes. Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas spoke of safety concerns she and her fellow councilmembers have specifically for Edmonds.

The Seattle Raging Grannies sang a protest song during their opportunity for public comment, a song they concluded with "keep all that oil in the ground."
The Seattle Raging Grannies sang a protest song during their opportunity for public comment, a song they concluded with “keep all that oil in the ground.” (Photo by Doug Petrowski)

“We say no to oil trains, simply no to oil trains in Edmonds,” Fraley-Monillas testified during her two-minute comment period. “There is no mitigation you can do to make oil trains safe in our city.”

Many who spoke at the meeting expressed fear of derailments or explosive accidents that might occur with the crude oil tanker trains.

Activists passed out placards that many at the meeting waved during the public comment periods. (Photo by Doug Petrowski)
Activists passed out placards that many at the meeting waved during the public comment periods. (Photo by Doug Petrowski)

While facilitators of the scoping session, run by the HDI Consulting firm, urged those who wished to speak at the meeting to focus their comments on their concerns for the Anacortes rail project, many of the speakers chose to voice their opposition to fossil fuels in general. Cody LaSalle, a former resident of Edmonds, said, “Oil shouldn’t be extracted out of the ground. It’s murdering the planet.”

A group of senior citizens who called themselves the Seattle Raging Grannies sang a song to the tune of Home of the Range; their song ended with the line “… keep all that oil in the ground.”

All comments at the meeting were documented by a court reporter; attendees were also given opportunity to express comments in written form using a bank of computers made available at the open house.

The Lynnwood meeting was the last of three held this month by Skagit County and the Washington State Department of Ecology in order to collect public comments on the rail project in advance of a Draft Environment Impact Statement to be published by the agencies next spring. The public can still comment on the proposed rail project by phone, mail, e-mail or by hand-delivering written comments to the Skagit County Planning and Development Services Department in Mount Vernon through Nov. 5.

— By Doug Petrowski

To comment on proposed Shell Anacortes Rail Unloading Facility

By phone: call 1-844-254-9668 (five-minute time limit for messages)
By e-mail: to comment@ShellRailEIS.com
By mail: to Shell Rail EIS, P.O. Box 21206, Seattle, WA  98111
In person: to Skagit County Planning and Development Services, 1800
Continental Place, Mount Vernon, WA  98273

Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas was one of more than 100 individuals who voiced their opposition to the planned rail project in Anacortes. (Photo by Doug Petrowski)
Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas was one of more than 100 individuals who voiced their opposition to the planned rail project in Anacortes. (Photo by Doug Petrowski)
Renny Reep, Shirley Morrison and Sue Kay (right) all from the Raging Grannies protest oil trains.
Renny Reep, Shirley Morrison and Sue Kay (right) all from the Raging Grannies protest oil trains. (Photo by David Pan)
Lauren Tozzi and Paul Adler put up a banner prior to a rally outside the Lynnwood Convention Center.
Lauren Tozzi and Paul Adler (right) put up a banner prior to a rally outside the Lynnwood Convention Center.
Photos of oil train accidents were on display.
Photos of oil train accidents were on display. (Photo by David Pan)

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