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As others see it: Railroad tax plan logical

There is elegant logic in Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal to tax railroads to pay for railroad safety upgrades. After all, it is the ever-increasing number of oil trains passing through the state from North Dakota's Bakken oilfields that is...

There is elegant logic in Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to tax railroads to pay for railroad safety upgrades. After all, it is the ever-increasing number of oil trains passing through the state from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfields that is raising the risk factor in track-side communities. It seems eminently fair and sensible that the entity both causing and profiting from the heightened danger pay at least a portion of ameliorating the risk.
The danger is real. The frequency of oil train derailments and explosions in North America has risen with the dramatic increase in the number of oil trains. Most of them are carrying volatile Bakken crude oil, which has been shown to be more explosive than other types of crude. ...
Dayton proposes a comprehensive transportation funding package that includes a 6.5 percent wholesale gasoline tax (Moorhead, Dilworth and other border cities would be exempt from the tax increase) and a tax on “rolling stock” and other railroad property. The total package would provide long-term funding for roads, bridges, railroad crossing upgrades and street/rail grade crossing separation. Communities also would have access to funds for specific rail safety initiatives.
To no one’s surprise, railroads don’t like the idea. Through a lobbyist in St. Paul, the railroads said they believe Minnesota does not have the authority to impose Dayton’s tax, and vowed to challenge it in court. ...
Whether one endorses the need for new tax revenue or opposes it, there is nothing radical in Dayton’s proposal. He is suggesting an industry that is generating new and dangerous impacts on public safety contribute to public coffers to reduce the impacts. The logic is inescapable.

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