Target: Todd Staples, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture
Goal: Stop proposal of a rail yard set to destroy an agriculturally rich area
Union Pacific plans to construct a rail yard in one of Texas’ most fertile agricultural areas. The rail yard will receive inbound traffic as well as prepare outbound traffic. With the railroad industry already under scrutiny for damage to the air from coal particulates as well as by devastating oil spills, the operation of this rail yard will destroy the land. Farmland should be protected, especially when U.S. farmland is shrinking and drying. Union Pacific owns a few farms in the area but wants more. Demand the railroad company seek another area for their destructive rail yard.
The Brazos Bottom, a fruitful area between the Brazos and Little Brazos Rivers in east central Texas, yields cotton, soybeans, and wheat. The land feeds from the Brazos Alluvium aquifer, which is primarily used for irrigation. Unlike many places under the fiery Texas sun, this aquifer has shown no water level decline. With such a precious component to Texas agriculture, the thought of putting a rail yard here seems strange. However, Union Pacific provides millions of dollars to Texas politicians, and therefore, many officials are unwilling to defend the land. Landowners who have been farming this land for over a century are at risk by eminent domain. Eminent domain grants the government the right to take private land for the betterment of the public or with just compensation.
One thousand acres of land are proposed for the rail yard. Unfortunately, an environmental assessment for the area is not required because Union Pacific is not building new lines. However, coal and oil will be present from incoming and outgoing trains. This rail yard will double Union Pacific’s coal export. From the damaging coal dust particulates in the air to the scary train oil spill in Virginia in April 2014, the increase of coal and industry will destroy this land.
Take action now to urge the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture to defend the precious land of Brazos Bottom by urging Union Pacific to consider an alternative site or conduct an environmental assessment.
Dear Commissioner Staples,
The fertile land of the Brazos Bottom is in danger from Union Pacific’s proposed rail yard. The Brazos Alluvium aquifer feeds the agriculture, which has produced here for over a century. A rail yard will receive incoming trains as well as prepare outgoing trains. The risks of an oil spill, the damage to air from coal particulates, and the construction proposed on farmland will destroy this fruitful area.
I urge you to take action against Union Pacific. Demand the railroad company conduct an environmental assessment of the area or find alternative sites for their rail yard. With Texas’ aquifers drying up and agricultural land diminishing, this precious spot needs to be saved.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jimmy Thomas via Flickr