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 Post subject: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 4:05 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3935
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
This really should be in Flimsies (which is where I'd put it if I knew how to place it there), but this is an example of how things could affect preservation of rights of way.

In this case, it didn't help that the owning railroad violated the terms of its easement agreement, and has had legal issues with the route going back over a century.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-ne ... /#comments


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 9:07 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11602
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
At the top left of the Flimsies page, there is a link that says "add item." Click on that. If you can't handle the resultant entry form, how are you even posting to "Interchange"?

As for the story itself, there are numerous interesting issues that could be raised, from passing on the increased costs to the refineries in question to simply admitting the location can be held hostage in perpetuity by the tribe and shutting down and relocating both refineries, thus raising costs for Washingtonians. Issues of "interstate commerce" also come into play here, and if the commenters' attitudes of "screw big business" rule the day, it'll ultimately be very interesting to see future chapters play out long term.......


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 9:26 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 1132
Location: B'more Maryland
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
At the top left of the Flimsies page, there is a link that says "add item." Click on that. If you can't handle the resultant entry form, how are you even posting to "Interchange"?

As for the story itself, there are numerous interesting issues that could be raised, from passing on the increased costs to the refineries in question to simply admitting the location can be held hostage in perpetuity by the tribe and shutting down and relocating both refineries, thus raising costs for Washingtonians. Issues of "interstate commerce" also come into play here, and if the commenters' attitudes of "screw big business" rule the day, it'll ultimately be very interesting to see future chapters play out long term.......



BNSF can always build another line that doesn't traverse the Tribe's land.

That's freedom baby!

Nobody's being held hostage.

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The past was the worst.


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 10:00 am 

Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:12 pm
Posts: 210
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
At the top left of the Flimsies page, there is a link that says "add item." Click on that. If you can't handle the resultant entry form, how are you even posting to "Interchange"?

As for the story itself, there are numerous interesting issues that could be raised, from passing on the increased costs to the refineries in question to simply admitting the location can be held hostage in perpetuity by the tribe and shutting down and relocating both refineries, thus raising costs for Washingtonians. Issues of "interstate commerce" also come into play here, and if the commenters' attitudes of "screw big business" rule the day, it'll ultimately be very interesting to see future chapters play out long term.......



There is a good deal of validity when it comes to the Tribe's concerns. For one; BNSF had one of the oil trains derail and spill in the in watershed they are responsible for.


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 12:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11602
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Ed Kapuscinski wrote:
BNSF can always build another line that doesn't traverse the Tribe's land.

That's freedom baby!

Nobody's being held hostage.


So nice when people who don't read the articles out themselves.

Examine the map. There is literally NO WAY for ANY railroad to build rail access to those two refineries without crossing either reservation land or water rights. The only other option would be car floats or transloading to ship or truck elsewhere--and of course both the act of transloading and the additional transport brings with it additional risks to the environment, never mind driving the cost of transport up to unfeasible levels. BNSF already has a spectacularly long swing bridge over the Swinomish Channel on the approach to the location, and the track already resembles a line built to avoid as much land as possible.

(Incidentally, the Seattle Times map errs in depicting the line extending to Anacortes. That's been a rail-trail, including that long bridge across Fidalgo Bay, for some time now. [UPDATE: They corrected the error later.])

The most fundamental issue in this discussion is why not one, but two, refineries were built in such a location where all economical access (save for nautical access and highway access via the south) could be controlled by a potentially hostile entity. BNSF is just the middleman in this situation. Normally such a restrictive easement would be considered an obstruction of interstate commerce, to my eye, but Native tribes/reservations constitute a "different" kind of litigant..... as you may find if you ever get a speeding ticket on one. YES, BNSF and the refineries ARE being "held hostage"--but, ultimately, it's like being an American traveling to the Gaza Strip or North Korea.

(This is not the forum to rehash the long and ugly matters of Native American tribes and various injustices over the centuries. We're stuck with the here and now.)


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Wed Jun 19, 2024 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 1:11 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 1132
Location: B'more Maryland
I read the article. But I didn't realize that there was no other way to get to the refinery.

It sounds like someone didn't do their due diligence then, and it's not the tribe.

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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 1:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2020 5:36 pm
Posts: 104
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Issues of "interstate commerce" also come into play here, and if the commenters' attitudes of "screw big business" rule the day, it'll ultimately be very interesting to see future chapters play out long term.......


The refinery chose to continue operations in its current location. BNSF agreed to operate no more than 25 cars per day over the line. This isn't being held hostage, it's being held accountable. "Screw big business" is definitely the right sentiment to have here because we're seeing another example of the railroad doing whatever they want, but for once, they're not getting away with it. If we expect corporations to be bound by the same rules when it comes to literally anything - environmental concerns, labor relations, worker safety, et cetera - then you have to hit the corporations where it actually hurts, and in the only language they know, which is an impact to profit, and, indirectly, an impact on the shareholders' return. The tribe's goal is to prevent a spill into the waterway, and we've seen time and time again that Class 1s can't be trusted to prevent that from happening because track inspections, car inspections, bridge inspections, and the like cost "too much money".

But I bet BNSF will be okay if they can just pull themselves back up by their bootstraps...


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 1:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 1005
Location: Warren, PA
As a general principle, it's now best to consider a tribal reservation as an international boundary and behave accordingly. And if you think it's interesting here, go to Canada.

New York State has been in a legal debate with the Seneca tribe for decades. It's settled into a 'you owe us about a billion dollars for I-90 crossing our land illegally' vs. 'How about we just give you easier gambling regulation, cannabis, state taxes......'

https://www.courthousenews.com/seneca-t ... ber%202022.

The distance I-90 crosses the Seneca reservation is about the same distance BNSF does in Washington. And FYI, the tribe leased, not sold, the Erie ROW across that reservation back in the quill pen days, I saw the original document, signed with an "X". You have to have a business license with the tribe to even be a contractor on todays WNYP.


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 1:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11602
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Zach Lybrand wrote:
The tribe's goal is to prevent a spill into the waterway, and we've seen time and time again that Class 1s can't be trusted to prevent that from happening because track inspections, car inspections, bridge inspections, and the like cost "too much money".

If that were indeed true, they could have just unilaterally banned such traffic completely in a new easement, or demanded some exorbitant "toll" of $25,000 per tank car to cross the land--which is apparently within their power to do, and it would be the absolute only way to "prevent a spill into the waterway," and I'm not even looking at the ship traffic yet.

There was some speculation in the Seattle press as to whether or not any reservation/tribe members work at either oil refinery. If there are any Native employees, then that would make such a move hypocritical.


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 5:14 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 1612
Yes, Railroads have to follow the rules they agreed to in order to keep running. Durango got in trouble when they cleared more trees than necessary in the national forest.

So the morale of the story is…. Follow the rules?


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2024 8:44 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:05 pm
Posts: 1238
When the line was built in the 1890s the railroad built across the reservation without permission or compensation. The refineries were built to get crude oil by ship and send product out by pipeline. The major product shipped out by rail was coke so 25 cars per day was plenty. Then came fracking and shipping oil in by train started. That is when the BNSF started going over the limit. No oil cars were spilt in the derailment. Three locomotives ran through a de-rail set to protect the swing bridge and diesel fuel was spilt right behind the tribe's casino and quite near tide water. The short story is the BNSF got caught with their pants down.


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2024 10:56 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:40 am
Posts: 111
Location: Durango, Co
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Durango got in trouble when they cleared more trees than necessary in the national forest.

That is not true. The D&S has the right to maintain their right of way, including fire mitigation. They were very careful to confine their activities to railroad property.

The issue arose when higher ups in the forest service had a knee jerk reaction to a "logging operation" without first learning all the facts. Once things were clarified there were no issues and the railroad has an excellent working relationship with both the US and state forestry departments. In fact, this past year the railroad worked with crews on a thinning project administered by the state forestry department to improve forest health and reduce fire danger on land adjacent to the railroad by providing a train and crews, at their own expense, to haul logs out near Rockwood.

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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2024 2:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11602
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
More media coverage of this case, from the otherwise/once well-esteemed Christian Science Monitor, gives a classic example of how passions about such stories and issues get falsely inflamed.

In an otherwise well-reported piece sourced from the Associated Press, the headline claims "Swinomish Tribe has been fighting to protect its land. Then a railway spilled crude oil across it."

As Donald Trump would correctly proclaim, "FAKE NEWS!!!"

(In the one derailment, locomotive fuel tanks were ruptured. NOT crude oil tanks. I wonder if they'll try to ban vehicles with fuel tanks driving on Highway 20 through the reservation.)

https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2024/0618 ... respassing


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2024 2:41 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:27 am
Posts: 135
Sometimes dealing with Indian reservations is not worth the effort when it comes to the hassle. My employer a major health care company deals with them on a fairly regular basis in NE and MO for several thousand individuals. They literally think that they are above all laws and regulations. We are literally the only company that will deal with them in these states and our legal team spends more time telling them they are in violation of their own contract with us than they realize.


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 Post subject: Re: Swinomish Tribe vs. BNSF Settlement
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2024 9:31 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:05 pm
Posts: 149
John T wrote:
When the line was built in the 1890s the railroad built across the reservation without permission or compensation. The refineries were built to get crude oil by ship and send product out by pipeline. The major product shipped out by rail was coke so 25 cars per day was plenty. Then came fracking and shipping oil in by train started. That is when the BNSF started going over the limit. No oil cars were spilt in the derailment. Three locomotives ran through a de-rail set to protect the swing bridge and diesel fuel was spilt right behind the tribe's casino and quite near tide water. The short story is the BNSF got caught with their pants down.

When you make an agreement with the Tribe to only move two trains of 50 cars each per day and then because your business opportunities change and you start six 100 car trains a day you have violated the agreement.

All railroads, routinely violate agreements they negotiate with their employees and thus they think the can violate the agreement with the Tribes with with the same impunity. BNSF got caught and now has to pay up.


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