Wabasha Frac Hauling Dispute Leads to Federal Lawsuit

Posted at: 07/02/2013 12:37 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- A Wabasha transportation company has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the city has adopted new rules harming its operation.

Jim Roemer Transport, LLC filed the complaint against the city of Wabasha.  The company, which transports silica sand from mines to its rail facility, says after it expanded, the city passed new ordinances to limit its growth.  

The company is seeking a federal judge to rule that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act preempts the city from regulating its operations.

From 2004-2012, Roemer has been hauling 18 rail cars worth of sand from Wisconsin mines, to its facility in Wabasha via tractor-trailer. From there, Canadian Pacific customer railcars take the sand to its destination. 

In 2009, Canadian Pacific and Roemer agreed to expand the facility to accommodate a growing demand.  By February of 2012, the bulk of the expansion was complete. The new facility could more than double daily transportation capacity at a total cost of just under $3 million dollars.

Here's where the dispute comes into play.

According to the lawsuit, one month after the bulk of construction was complete, the city of Wabasha passed a zoning ordinance, to protect the quality of public water in certain areas. One such area includes the Roemer property.

Roemer contests the ordinance because it was enacted after construction was complete, and the company says federal regulation should apply.

Furthermore, Roemer says in March of 2013 the city of Wabasha took action to harm their business.  The city adopted a traffic moratorium which prohibits more than 30 heavy truck trips from any single property per day.  Roemer claims much of this is over concern from frac sand activists who want to limit the operations of theirs, and other similar businesses.

Roemer is not seeking any punitive damages in this lawsuit, simply clarification over the jurisdiction related to the business.

To read the complaint, click here.