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Baltimore council passes bill targeting crude oil terminals

Baltimore City Hall

Baltimore City Hall (The Daily Record/Lauren Rock)

The Baltimore City Council has passed a bill that would ban new or expanded crude oil terminals in the city.

With one dissenting vote, the council voted Monday evening to use the city’s zoning code to enact the ban, thereby circumventing federal law that prohibits local jurisdictions from regulating commercial rail traffic. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network says in a release that additional or expanded terminals would bring more trains carrying crude oil through Baltimore, increasing the likelihood of an explosion.

The bill now goes to Mayor Catherine Pugh’s desk. Climate advocates are holding a rally March 19 to urge her to sign.

City lawyers have said that without clearly defining crude oil, the law would be impermissibly vague, and singling out one kind of oil may violate constitutional protections.