The agreement we reached with the plaintiffs reflects BNSF’s long-term efforts to address coal dust, and it is important to note by reaching this agreement, it allows us to continue that practice without distraction of a prolonged legal battle. They originally sued BNSF for $4.6 trillion, and our settlement of $1 million, which will fund supplemental environmental projects in Washington, reflects the truth that the sweeping allegations from the plaintiffs were simply unfounded. It is important to note the settlement reflects that BNSF denies any violations of the Clean Water Act and that BNSF has implemented a regime requiring the use of the best commercially available technology to address coal dust as upheld by the Surface Transportation Board, the federal agency with oversight over rail industry practices. We stand firmly behind our rule, which was developed following extensive research and field testing and reflects best practices. Remember, Judge Coughneour acknowledged BNSF for its efforts to address coal dust.
As part of the agreement, we will study the use of physical covers for coal and petroleum coke trains. The first step in that process will be to identify available prototypes from vendors for testing. BNSF will develop a study protocol to assess the safety and commercial and operational feasibility of available prototypes, as well as their effectiveness in reducing coal or petroleum coke dust. The settlement does not require a particular outcome or conclusion with respect to car covers. The study results will be driven by data and technical analysis.
Finally, Judge Coughneour did not find any specific violations and he also did not reach a conclusion if he could even do so because of the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA.) Under ICCTA, we have a federal, legal obligation to provide transportation service upon reasonable request.