STB approves DM&E’s track construction in Powder River Basin
The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has granted final approval to Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad to build a 280-mile line into Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin.
The STB said the decision requires DM&E to meet extensive environmental mitigation conditions.
DM&E filed its application to the STB to build the line in February 1998. As part of the project, the railroad would also rebuild about 600 miles of track that spans across South Dakota, through Minnesota to Midwestern and eastern utilities.
The railroad said its goal is to transport about 40 million tons of coal a year in the startup of the new line and will increase it to about 100 million tons a year.
The STB approved the DM&E’s application to build the 280 miles of track in January 2002. However, environmental groups raised legal roadblocks against commencing construction of the line.
DM&E President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin V. Schieffer praised the STB’s decision.
“It’s been a long time coming, but we are pleased with the end result,” Schieffer said in a statement. “This project will have a tremendous positive impact on agriculture, grain prices and economic development in our area. And it will help lower energy costs and expand rail capacity nationally.”
Utility companies have complained about the lack of rail competition from the Powder River Basin, citing routine service breakdowns in the past two years by the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads.