The Swinomish Tribe of Washington filed a lawsuit in federal court today in hopes of stopping the transport of crude oil through the reservation.
According to the complaint, BNSF Railway has broken the terms of an agreement with the tribe. To resolve a century of trespass claims, the company promised just one train of 25 cars could pass through the reservation in each direction daily.
But with energy development in the Bakken region on the rise, the tribe recently learned that BNSF is sending as many as six trains with 100 cars through the reservation every week. The lawsuit seeks an end to the practice.
“A deal is a deal,” Chairman Brian Cladoosby said in a press release. “Our signatures were on the agreement with BNSF, so were theirs, and so was the United States. But despite all that, BNSF began running its Bakken oil trains across the reservation without asking, and without even telling us. This was exactly what they did for decades starting in the 1800’s.”
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