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BNSF: Rights are broad and deep

| December 22, 2010 9:00 PM

The County Commissioners and the Department of Environmental Quality are fighting an uphill battle in their quest for additional county control and monitoring of the BNSF facility in Hauser over the Aquifer. In addition to having perhaps the most highly technical and most expensive leak detection system in Kootenai County, BNSF answers only to Congress through the Interstate Commerce Act, Commission.

The facility sits on Railroad Property, not subject to regulation by any city, county or by the state of Idaho. In the 1800s Congress gave land grants (Allodial Property Rights) to the railroads, to finance the western expansion of the U.S.

For years railroad tycoons such as J.P. Morgan and Jay Gould had been milking the public. Taking advantage of area transportation monopolies, these "robber barons" often charged rides, while providing sweet deals to large companies that shipped across the nation. Since large companies represented greater business potential than small ones, they were given "rebates," wherein they received undisclosed sums in consideration of their patronage.

The Interstate Commerce Act (ICA) of 1887 (24 Stat. 379) targeted unfair practices in the railroad industry by attempting to eliminate discrimination against small markets, outlawing pools and rebates, and establishing a "reasonable and just" price standard, to ensure the overall purpose of the act and avoid favoritism in the industry, railroad companies were to publish their rates for all to see.

The definition of "Allodial Property Rights" is left for the reader to discover for themselves, so they don't forget what it means.

RONALD G. JOHNSON

Member, Aquifer Council

Rathdrum

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