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Environmental review of BNSF refueling facility not necessary, STB says


Surface Transportation Board Aug. 15 ruled that an environmental review isn't necessary for Burlington Northern Santa Fe's proposed refueling terminal near Hauler, Idaho.

BNSF last year received a construction permit from Kootenai County Board of Commissioners after agreeing to several environmental conditions, including leak detection, emergency shut-off programs and earthquake protection. The terminal would be located over a portion of the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie aquifer.

Some local interests, not satisfied with the county-imposed conditions, filed suit in a Washington state court, arguing that only STB could impose environmental conditions. The court ruled that, if the board considered the project new rail-line construction, it would have the authority to conduct an environmental review and impose conditions.

Per a petition filed by the Idaho interests, STB found that the terminal is not a new rail line because it wouldn't enable BNSF to serve new territory, but rather help with existing operations. Therefore, the board believes it has no regulatory authority over the project, and can't impose environmental conditions beyond those agreed to by BNSF and the county.