Description: Challenge to Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 preemption of local prohibitions on rail transportation of fossil fuels.
Holmquist v. United States
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/14/2017 Order Download Motion to dismiss granted. Washington Federal Court Dismissed Challenge to Federal Preemption of Local Bans on Fossil Fuel Transit. The federal district court for the Eastern District of Washington dismissed an action in which the plaintiff alleged that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995’s (ICCTA’s preemption of local restrictions on the transportation of coal and oil by rail within municipal boundaries violated their “constitutional right to a livable and healthy climate.” The plaintiffs were the unsuccessful proponent of ballot initiatives that would have banned rail transit of coal and oil through Spokane, Washington and supporters of similar measures to ban fossil fuel trains in Spokane. The court held that the plaintiffs’ claims were not justiciable because the issue was not ripe, the plaintiffs did not have standing, and any relief requested would amount to an advisory opinion. With respect to ripeness and standing, the court said the plaintiffs’ alleged harm was not traceable to ICCTA, which did not prohibit passage of the ballot initiative but only application of certain laws. The court also found that any causal connection between the failed initiatives and Spokane’s climate was “tenuous, at best.” 01/31/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Spokane Residents and Workers Challenged Federal Law Preempting Local Bans on Rail Transportation of Fossil Fuels. A physician from Spokane, Washington, and six other individuals who live or work in Spokane filed a lawsuit against the United States alleging that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (ICCTA) was unconstitutional to the extent that it preempted local prohibitions on rail transportation of fossil fuels. The plaintiffs alleged that the Spokane City Council had removed from the ballot for November 2016 an initiative that would have banned rail transportation of fossil fuels through the city. The plaintiffs alleged that local officials removed the initiative because the ICCTA would have preempted such a law. The plaintiffs asserted that such preemption violated their “federally-guaranteed constitutional right to a liveable climate” as well as their right to constitutional right to local community self-government. The plaintiffs also alleged that ICCTA’s preemption provisions violated their rights under the Washington constitution to local community self-government.