Appeals Court Puts D.C. Hazmat Ban on Hold
by Sean Moulton, 4/21/2005
A federal appeals court granted CSX an emergency stay to prevent D.C. from implementing a new law prohibiting hazardous cargo rail shipments near the U.S. Capitol. On Monday, May 18, the District Court had upheld D.C.'s ban, prompting CSX to file an immediate appeal and seek the emergency injunction. The court also ordered Washington, DC, and the Sierra Club, another plaintiff in the case, to file briefs by Friday, May 22. The appeals court three judge panel, consisting of Karen LeCraft Henderson, A. Raymond Randolph and John G. Roberts, made it clear that the emergency stay was not a decision on the case or represent the court's inclination on this matter. The temporary hold was granted to give the court adequate time to consider the merits of the case. Given the short deadline for plaintiffs' briefs, it appears the appeals court plans to move as quickly as possible on this matter. Once again, regardless of the court's ruling, the losing party will likely appeal the case. D.C. city officials have publicly stated that they are willing to pursue the matter to the Supreme Court. Several cities, including Baltimore and Philadelphia, are closely watching the case, as they also are seeking to address the issue of hazardous chemical shipments through their communities. Unfortunately, until the appeals court rules, CSX will continue shipping hazardous cargos though the capitol.