Groups to oppose Union Pacific Railroad lawsuit

Union Pacific sued Wasco County

A woman holds up a sign during a protest for a Union Pacific railroad expansion in Mosier, September 6, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Three groups are seeking to oppose Union Pacific Railroad’s lawsuit involving a proposed rail expansion along the Columbia River Gorge where a crude oil train derailed last June.

Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and Columbia Riverkeeper say they want to stop Union Pacific from circumventing laws that protects the Gorge as a national scenic area. They filed a motion Monday to intervene in the case.

Omaha, Nebraska-based Union Pacific earlier this month sued Wasco County, which rejected the railroad’s expansion application, and the Columbia River Gorge Commission, which is scheduled appeals of that case.

Union Pacific says federal rules govern railroads, so local restrictions like the ones Wasco County approved don’t apply to the project.

The derailment last June sparked a massive fire near Mosier.