January 18, 2023 - Last week, Bill was invited to present to the House Transportation Committee and give a summary of Solutionary Rail's research on Southeast Washington Rail. (Solutionary Rail, a project of the Backbone Campaign, proposes rail solutions. Our current focus is on how farmers can get their wheat to market, without relying on Snake River barges, a system that kills salmon and violates sacred treaty obligations with NW Tribes.)
Today, we're asking Washington State residents who care about wild salmon and orca to submit written testimony to the Washington State Senate and House Transportation Committees. Please communicate to them that rail investments in SE Washington can help farmers, particularly in the transition to breaching the dams.
Senate Bill 5162 (See pages 29-30)
The Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing on SB 5162 (Transportation Funding and Appropriations) yesterday. They are accepting written testimony TODAY before 4pm, on that bill. To tell Senate Committee members that you support the State investing in shortline rail for better connectivity, please click HERE.
(We suggest: 1. For Position select Other; 2. Fill out the Form and write your testimony, including the Main Points below. 3. If you want to include Solutionary Rail's 8 Point Plan, please download this 1 sheet to your computer and upload to the form. NOTE THAT WRITTEN TESTIMONY MUST BE SUBMITTED PRIOR TO 4pm TODAY.)
House Bill 1125 (Transportation Funding and Appropriation) (See pages 28-30)
The House Transportation Committee meets today, 1/18, at 4pm. You can watch the hearing by going to THIS PAGE and clicking View Video for the 1/18 hearing. Solutionary Rail encourages written testimony to the House, submitted no later than Thursday, 1/19 at 4pm.
(Directions - Go to this PAGE. 1. Select HB1125; 2. Select "I would like to submit written testimony"; 3. For Position select Other; 4. Fill out the Form and write your testimony, including the Main Points below. 5. If you want to include Solutionary Rail's 8 Point Plan, please download this 1 sheet to your computer and upload to the form.)
Backbone Campaign asks our members to communicate to their legislators and to write Letters to the Editor, making these points:
Governor Inslee has requested $5 million to study the feasibility of grain transportation by rail. We ask that the general study request be amended to include the specific items from SR's 8 Point Plan for SE Washington, including a Rail Solutions Office.
The short line rail system in SE Washington is currently characterized by a series of “dead ends” that serve monopolistic arrangements and what seems to be cartel-like behavior by class 1 railroads BNSF and UP. Investing in connectivity and standing up for our 8 Point Plan will expand connectivity, to give farmers robust and cost-competitive options - even without competition from Snake River barges.
We object to HB 1125's proposal for abandoning (or "railbanking") the WSDOT-owned rail between Colfax and Pullman and track north and south of Pullman. This track may prove to be an essential rail intersection for freight and passengers. Now is the time to repair NOT abandon rail assets in SE Washington.
The timeline for the Governor's Study of modeshifting freight off Lower Snake River barges needs to be accelerated, to reflect the urgency and timeline of preventing salmon extinction. Instead of a Dec 31, 2024 deadline, the deadline must be moved up to 2023.
Rail can’t wait! Our State needs a Rail Solutions Office – part of the Solutionary Rail Plan - because rail is a solution to our climate and salmon crises, and it will be an integral component of Washington State's future economy.
ALSO: Will you write and submit a Letter to the Editor to your local paper? Our Toolkit makes it easy.
Learn more about Solutionary Rail's "Trains Can Save Salmon" Plan at SolutionaryRail.org/lsrbarge2rail
Thank you for taking action, for tribal sovereignty, wild salmon, thriving Salish sea orca, SE Washington communities, and farmers.