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Monday, March 25, 2013    

STB: Analysis of Tongue River Railroad's proposed coal line proceeds to Draft EIS phase


The Surface Transportation Board's (STB) Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) has issued a notice of availability of the final scope of study for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be prepared for the Tongue River Railroad Co. Inc.'s proposed coal line in southeastern Montana.

The notice summarizes and addresses comments on the draft scope of study, and sets forth the final scope of study for the EIS. OEA next will develop the Draft EIS, which will be available for public review and comments after it's completed.

Tongue River Railroad plans to build and operate an 83-mile line to move low-sulfur, sub-bituminous coal from area mines. The line would be constructed between Miles City, Mont., and two ending points: one near the site of a previously planned Montco mine near Ashland, Mont., and the other at the proposed Otter Creek mine in an area east of Ashland.

The proposed line would be operated solely by BNSF Railway Co., which owns a one-third interest in Tongue River Railroad's parent company.

On Feb. 26, the STB denied two petitions that sought to deny Tongue River Railroad's supplemental application to construct and operate the line. To ensure sufficient time for interested parties to draft and file comments on the application, the board modified the procedural schedule so comments on the proposed project's transportation merits are due April 2 and Tongue River Railroad's reply is due May 16.

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