Pass a Resolution for Solutionary Rail


Resolutions like the one passed by the Washington State Labor Council are an essential tool for demonstrating grassroots support for Solutionary Rail.   

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, to further the concept, the Washington State Labor Council calls on Governor Inslee to direct the Washington State Department of Transportation and other appropriate state agencies to evaluate Solutionary Rail feasibility and to bring the general concept of rail corridor electrification, powered by renewable energy, into the broader “green” industrial transportation system. 

Read the entire resolution passed at the July 2016 Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) Convention HERE

On May 24, 2017 the Sierra Club of Washington State passed this simple (and replicable) resolution.

Below are a couple other model resolutions for you to modify and bring to your organization.  Feel free to edit them as necessary.

Version 1:


WHEREAS, over 25 major oil train derailments over the past decade have led to spills, fiery explosions and deaths, underscoring the need for railroads to have an alternative to the bulk freight on which they have relied since public highway and aviation subsidies eroded their mixed freight and passenger markets,

WHEREAS, the coal and oil rail shipping boom of recent years has pushed farm products off the rails and subjected rail workers to schedules that cause dangerous fatigue, and the more recent bust has placed many rail workers on furlough, underscoring the pitfalls of over reliance on one or two bulk commodities,

WHEREAS, coal and oil create climate disrupting carbon pollution and must be phased out,underscoring the need for new rail markets,

WHEREAS, rail, unique among long-distance heavy transportation modes, can also replace its own oil fuel supply with electricity that can come from increasingly competitive renewable sources,

WHEREAS, rail line electrification can also be leveraged to build transmission lines that make now remote sun and wind energy resources available in metropolitan markets,

WHEREAS, the Solutionary Rail strategy for rail electrification and modernization:

  • enables increased speeds and schedule reliability which allow railroads to reclaim mixed freight and passenger markets, providing options to dangerous freight and boom-and- bust cycles,

  • reduces reliance on fossil fuel shipments, and reduces fossil fuel use by shifting freight and passengers significantly to transport mode powered by a renewable electricity,

  • opens the way to reduce fossil-based electricity by substantially increasing renewable energy transmission and use,

  • creates a public financing tool, the Steel Interstate Development Authority, that overcomes capitalization barriers to U.S. rail electrification, and,

  • creates a public-private partnership with railroads that can be the basis for improved working conditions for rail workers and renegotiation of track easements across tribal lands,

WHEREAS, Solutionary Rail’s proposal to electrify primary lines the Northern Corridor from Seattle to Chicago would jumpstart U.S. rail electrification by demonstrating success,

BE IT RESOLVED, (ORGANIZATION NAME) calls on the governors of the Northern Corridor states as well as BNSF, the major railroad serving the corridor, and its owner, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, to begin discussions on a Northern Corridor electrification, and individually and jointly initiate feasibility studies of this highly promising concept.


Version 2:


Railroad companies were drawn deeply into the fossil fuel economy when the US government created the Interstate Highway system.  The creation of a publicly subsidized highway infrastructure was a major cause of high value freight abandoning trains for trucks.  Coal was the customer that saved the railroads.  

Today the rail industry is troubled by the coal and oil downturns, which is driven by many factors including tighter environmental rules.  Coal power is being replaced by lower cost natural gas, which is in its own way a troubling development.  Much of the gas is fracked, polluting water tables and leaking powerful climate-warming gas methane into the atmosphere.  Cheap gas prices masks costs not accounted on balance sheets.

The dependency of rail companies on heavy commodities did away with regular schedules.  Freight trains now depart when deemed full.  Not having regular work schedules is a systemic cause of a fatigue-plagued, unsafe work environment that endangers workers, our communities and the environment.  Because this problem is inherent to the way railroads do business, it is not something that can be negotiated or regulated away.  

That risk has until recently been unquestioned, assumed acceptable for lack of an alternative.  The nearly catastrophic Mosier, Oregon derailment and explosion of June 2016 fueled a growing public awareness of “bomb trains.”  People are asking serious questions about the risks and role of the current freight rail business model.  Rail electrification provides a timely alternative to move beyond dependence on bulk fossil fuel transportation.

That alternative embodies a key priority for labor, a concept known as Just Transition.  In the transition to a low-carbon world many industries will be disrupted, and many jobs will be eliminated, particularly those associated with fossil fuel industries.  Just Transition strategies aim to shift workers from declining to rising industries such as clean industry.

For the transition to a clean economy to be just, workers and affected communities must enjoy access to new industries and good jobs.  Investing in rail electrification and modernization is a Just Transition strategy.

In a time when reducing fossil fuel use is critical to restore the stability of a disrupted global climate, rail can offer a major transportation option that is powered by clean, renewable energy, ensuring jobs for rail workers and creating new clean energy jobs for displaced fossil fuel industry workers.  As we run the trains on electricity, the rail corridors can be made into transmission routes from remote solar and wind resources to metropolitan markets.

Just about everybody will benefit from rail electrification.  Through innovative public financing strategies, railroads will gain an infusion of capital to modernize lines.  Increased speed and service-time reliability will make rail transport attractive to freight shippers and passengers, while diminishing reliance on bulk fossil fuel shipments.  Shippers at every scale will have access to faster, more reliable cross-country freight transport.  A new generation of passenger trains will provide fast, reliable and comfortable transportation to millions.

Rural and tribal utilities will be able to sell power generated on their lands, energizing the build-out of renewable energy across the country, with enormous benefits for communities that have been physically and economically stranded in recent decades.  Utility customers will gain a reliable supply of renewable energy that can reduce consumer costs while allowing power companies to shut down old fossil-fuel generators.

[For more information see Solutionary Rail - A people-powered campaign to electrify America’s railroads and open corridors to a clean energy future at]

The Resolution:
Whereas the continued extraction and combustion of fossil fuels such as coal and oil has been scientifically proven to represent a threat to the environment and the future of the planet; and

Whereas there is a mass movement domestically and globally to radically reduce the continued use of such fuels to power economic development; and

Whereas, other alternative energy sources – wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric – are developing rapidly and appear to be the wave of the future; and

Whereas, railroad corporations have traditionally hauled large amounts of fossil fuel – especially coal – but the future of this traffic appears uncertain or possibly even non-existent within a few decades; and

Whereas, the burden of shifting from an economy based on fossil fuels to one based upon renewal energy should not be unfairly born by workers, including railroad workers; and

Whereas, to ensure that such a transition to alternative energy does not create an economy of low wage jobs for working people - including railroad workers - whose jobs could conceivably be threatened by such a transition;

Therefore, Be it Resolved that (insert ORGANIZATION) support a “Just Transition” to an economy based upon renewal and clean energy; and

Be it further Resolved that _____________________ demand that workers who are displaced from environmentally destructive industries be provided living wage income and benefits through public sector jobs or a universal basic income; and

Be it Further Resolved that _____________________ demand that fossil fuel extraction dependent regions such as Montana, Wyoming and Appalachia be locations where investments of alternative energy are made to offset the economic dislocations that workers and communities would face from such a transition; and

Be it Further Resolved that _____________________ recognize the importance of improvements and upgrades to infrastructure and recognize the importance trade has to the Washington State economy; that rail and trade modernization opportunities made today are essential in attracting the trade commodities of tomorrow.

Be it Further Resolved that _____________________ call upon the rail industry and the rail unions to work together to move away from unsustainable practices - specifically the hauling of environmentally destructive commodities - and work towards expanding the railroads’ business prospects in areas such as mail, passengers, trailers and containers, renewal energy components, etc.

Be it Finally Resolved that this resolution be forwarded to (insert GOVERNMENT ENTITY)  for public policy advocacy.  Announcement of this resolution is to be distributed to media outlets.


ORGANIZATION  by  _________________________ (signature)  DATE _____________________

[Download an editable draft of this resolution here.]

Again, PLEASE follow WSLC's lead and become a champion for sustainable transport and renewable energy infrastructure that benefits all: 

  1. PITCH-IN TODAY to Help Backbone publish the Solutionary Rail book, AND...

  2. Sign the Solutionary Rail Petition to Governor Jay Inslee HERE.

  3. Pass a resolution in your organization and send it to Bill Moyer, Solutionary Rail project director at [email protected]



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  • Bill Moyer
    published this page in Take Action 2016-11-18 15:48:03 -0800
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