Washington Tribe Sues to Block Oil Trains Across its Land

Tribe acuses BNSF of violating agreement only allowing two 25-car trains each day

By Justin Franz

ANACORTES, Wash. — The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is suing BNSF Railway, alleging the company is violating an agreement that restricts the number of trains that can cross its reservation in northwest Washington.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court argues that a 1991 easement signed by the railway’s predecessor only allows two 25-car trains each day.

The suit says several 100-car trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken region cross the reservation in Skagit County each week. The tracks serve to oil refineries in Anacortes.

The Seattle Times reports that BNSF says it has received the lawsuit and is reviewing it.

The tribe wants to block the movement of crude oil across its lands. Tribal chairman Brian Cladoosby says the shipments of crude oil put people and the tribe’s way of life at risk.

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