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U.S. appellate court places DM&E's coal project back on STB's docket

Last week, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Surface Transportation Board's Jan. 30, 2002, approval of Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp.'s Power River Basin (PRB) project because of concerns voiced by several communities, environmental groups, landowners and the Mayo Clinic.

Although STB adequately addressed the clinic's arguments, as well as financial and environmental concerns, the board needs to take a second look at the $1.5 billion project's noise and vibration effects for homes located near tracks in Rochester, Minn., and historic preservation and pollution implications, the court ruled.

"I appreciate the court's praise for the STB's environmental review of this large and complex project, which noted that our agency 'did a highly commendable and professional job in evaluating an enormously complex proposal,'" said STB Chairman Roger Nober in a prepared statement. "However … I am concerned about the ramifications of certain aspects of this decision, and our agency is evaluating how it should proceed."

DM&E plans to construct 280 track miles in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming, and upgrade 600 track miles in South Dakota and Minnesota to access PRB coal mines.

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More News from 10/6/2003