╌>

Rail firm must pay Native American tribe $400m for illegal crude oil trains | West Coast | The Guardian

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  kavika  •  4 weeks ago  •  4 comments

By:   the Guardian

Rail firm must pay Native American tribe $400m for illegal crude oil trains | West Coast | The Guardian
Judge orders BNSF to pay Swinomish Tribe for trespassing with dangerous cargo across tribal land of Washington state

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Judge orders BNSF to pay Swinomish Tribe for trespassing with dangerous cargo across tribal land of Washington state

One of the largest freight railroad networks in North America must pay nearly $400m to the Swinomish Tribe, a federally recognized tribe located in Washington state, a federal judge ordered on Monday. Last year, US district judge Robert Lasnik ruled that BNSF Railway intentionally trespassed when it repeatedly ran 100-car trains carrying crude oil across the tribe's reservation.

Lasnik held a trial earlier this month to determine how much in profits BNSF had made from trespassing from 2012 to 2021, and how much of the company should be required to repay to the Indigenous group. Lasnik put that figure at $362m and added $32m in post-tax profits such as investment income for a total of more than $394m.

"The only issue to be determined in this phase of the proceedings is the value of the benefits defendant obtained as a result of its willful, conscious, and knowing trespass," Lasnik wrote in his decision. He added that the amount calculated in post-tax profits could have been much higher. "Although the many unknowns regarding the uses to which BNSF put its ill-gotten profits and the return rates on those investments should be resolved in the Tribe's favor to ensure that BNSF does not retain any benefit from its wrongdoing, doing so would add hundreds of millions of dollars to an already large restitutionary award."

The railroad company told the Associated Press it had no comment on the judgment.

"We know that this is a large amount of money. But that just reflects the enormous wrongful profits that BNSF gained by using the Tribe's land day after day, week after week, year after year over our objections," Steve Edwards, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, said in a statement. "When there are these kinds of profits to be gained, the only way to deter future wrongdoing is to do exactly what the court did today - make the trespasser give up the money it gained by trespassing."

The tribe initially sued BNSF in 2015 after the railway dramatically increased the number of cars it was running across the reservation to transport crude oil from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota to a nearby refinery. After train cars carrying Bakken crude oil exploded in Alabama, North Dakota and Quebec, a federal agency warned that the oil ignites more easily than other crudes. In Washington, the railway crosses sensitive marine ecosystems like the Salish Sea and Padilla Bay, where BNSF trains have previously leaked more than 3,000 gallons of diesel.

The tribe learned that BNSF had begun transporting crude across the reservation after the railway had already begun doing so. "BNSF failed to update the Tribe regarding the nature of the cargo that was crossing the Reservation and unilaterally increased the number of trains and the number of cars without the Tribe's written agreement, thereby violating the conditions placed on BNSF's permission to enter the property," Lasnik said.

The tribe told the AP that it expects BNSF to appeal the ruling.

Explore more on these topics

  • West Coast
  • Native Americans
  • Washington state
  • Rail transport
  • Oil
  • news

ShareReuse this content


Red Box Rules

OFF-TOPIC COMMENTS WILL BE DELETED WITHOUT WARNING.


 

Tags

jrDiscussion - desc
[]
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Kavika     4 weeks ago

This is not an unusual case, for decades corporations have violated their agreements with tribes and simply expect to keep doing business as usual. As we Native Americans become more politically powerful the tide is turning, slowly but surely. Our tribe won an $18 million settlement from a company using a pipeline on our land for a year after the lease expired.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1    4 weeks ago

SOSDD, the railroads were instrumental in the starvation and genocide of native americans...

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.1    4 weeks ago
the railroads were instrumental in the starvation and genocide of native americans...

Yes, they were, consider this karma.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
2  CB    3 weeks ago

That is wonderful news for the tribe. I hope all goes well in getting the receipts and any communal sharing that is essential. :)

 
 

Who is online













41 visitors