AG Fox sending wrong message on rail transportation safety issues

Tuesday, August 6, 2019


The Members of Yellowstone Bend Citizen Council in Livingston Montana are writing this letter to voice our concern at the request of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox asking the Trump administration to overrule a Washington state law that imposes “safety” restrictions on trains carrying oil from the Northern Plains.  

We feel that our AG office is sending a message to the feds that the voters of Montana are not concerned with public safety issues around the rail transport of oils and other fossil fuels. In fact we are very concerned after repeated incidents over the past few years including most recently a derailment of a coal train between Livingston and Bozeman a few months ago.

The Washington state law requires that oil shipped by rail through their state have the more volatile gases removed to reduce the risk of explosive and potentially dangerous derailments. 

Unlike AG Fox we do not believe Washington has “overstepped its bounds” nor that the impact on the economy in Montana and North Dakota will be “terrible.”  

In fact there is a strong possibility that the treated oil can be mixed at a refinery in Bellingham, Washington, to enrich the blend and increase its value as reported by a former employee of the Department of Environmental Quality in Washington. We of YBCC Rail Watch committee are requesting that AG Fox withdraw this action and instead direct attention toward protecting our homes and communities in proximity to the railroad lines. Further, we propose that Montana follow the lead of Washington State and increase safety measures on fossil fuel transport through the state. We are fully aware of the hazards that pass by our homes and will sleep better knowing that as many precautions as possible have been implemented to protect our homes, families and communities.

Eleanor Wend

Rail Watch committee, Yellowstone Bend Citizens Council