The Bend City Council officially opposes crude oil coming through the city by rail, though the resolution passed by the council is largely symbolic.
On Wednesday, the council unanimously adopted a resolution that takes a stand against oil trains moving through Bend due to the safety and environmental risks.
The resolution does not mean oil trains are banned from Bend — cities aren’t able to do that, according to city staff. But what the resolution does do is join several other cities in Oregon to put pressure on the federal government to instill more regulations for oil traveling by train.
“It’s important for us as one of many cities to come together with this message,” Mayor Sally Russell said in the council’s meeting Wednesday.
The resolution states that the City Council will support an areawide environmental impact statement “to identify the cumulative effects that would result from existing and proposed oil-by-rail terminals, mitigation of safety and environmental risks, and the development and review of a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment prior to approval of any new oil transfer and storage permits by any state, regional or federal agency.”
The resolution also calls on the city manager to write to federal representatives and senators, as well as Gov. Kate Brown, asking that they develop legislation that would require railroad companies to make information about both current and future oil transport by rail public, and provide adequate notice to local communities of any plans for new or expanded rail facilities.
The inspiration behind the resolution came from Councilors Gena Goodman-Campbell and Melanie Kebler, who in March asked the city’s environmental committee to research the safety and environmental issues around oil trains and the derailments that have happened around the Pacific Northwest.
Safety considerations of oil traveling through Bend has long been a conversation. The issue came to the forefront in 2016 after a major derailment spilled roughly 42,000 gallons of crude oil in the community of Mosier in the Columbia River Gorge.
The full resolution can be found on the meetings and agenda page of bendoregon.gov.