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12/10/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Onto the PRB: DM&E topples another obstacle


Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. (DM&E) cleared another hurdle Dec. 9 that was hampering its $1.5 billion Power River Basin (PRB) project.


A federal district court permanently enjoined the state of South Dakota from enforcing a 1999 eminent domain statute that would have transferred regulatory power over the project from Surface Transportation Board to South Dakota's governor.


The court ruled that the law was "unconstitutional," posed "an insurmountable barrier to the PRB project," and presented "unduly burdensome regulatory, financing, cost and practical problems," according to a prepared statement.


"The court's decision was great in every respect. For DM&E, it was a home run," said DM&E President Kevin Schieffer. "We shouldn't be changing the rules in the middle of the game after investors have already spent millions trying to develop our state."


To reach Wyoming's PRB, DM&E plans to construct 280 line miles and rebuild 600 track miles — much of it in South Dakota.


Schieffer plans to meet several South Dakota and Washington officials in the near future to discuss the project's next steps and "reinvigorate support to bring the project to completion," he said.


Earlier his year, DM&E obtained STB's final regulatory approval to proceed with the project. Construction might begin in 2003 pending financing and the outcome of other legal issues.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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