STB Issues CPKC Final EISWritten by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
The Surface Transportation Board on Jan. 27 completed a final, critical (and very lengthy) step in its consideration of the proposed Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern merger to form CPKC (Canadian Pacific Kansas City), North America’s first transnational railroad: Issuance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by the Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA).
“The Final EIS responds to comments received on the Draft EIS, issued Aug. 5, 2022 for public review and comment,” STB said. “It provides additional information on the resource areas of grade crossing delay and safety and noise and vibration, and sets forth OEA’s final recommendations, including final recommended mitigation measures, to the Board. Issuance of the Final EIS completes the Board’s environmental review of the proposed acquisition of KCS by CP. The Board will consider the transportation merits of the proposed acquisition, and the entire environmental record, including the Draft EIS, Final EIS and all comments received as part of its final decision in this proceeding.”
A final decision, which many industry observers believe will be a “yes” (according to a statement from CP President and CEO Keith Creel at the railroad’s 4Q22 earnings call), and will occur on Friday, March 3 or Monday, March 6.
The Final EIS in Canadian Pacific Railway Limited; Canadian Pacific Railway Company; Soo Line Railroad Company; Central Maine & Quebec Railway US Inc.; Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corporation; and Delaware & Hudson Railway Company, Inc.—Control—Kansas City Southern; The Kansas City Southern Railway Company; Gateway Eastern Railway Company; and The Texas Mexican Railway Company, Docket No. FD 36500, is in three volumes totaling 5,728 pages. Volumes I and III can be downloaded below; Volume II, Appendixes A-R, is 4,880 pages and too large to attach here. Download it at this link. STB notes that “the Final EIS is a track-changes version of the Draft EIS—additions and deletions to the text of the Draft EIS appear in blue and red.”
Editor’s Note: Here’s a sample from Volume II. It’s about environmental impacts on many things, among which are tiny bats with big ears. If you wish to read the entire, 4,880-page document, have at it—but I personally think you’re bats (unless you’re an environmental engineer). – William C. Vantuono
ATTACHMENT A: NORTHERN LONG-EARED BAT AND INDIANA BAT VOLUNTARY MITIGATION MEASURES
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited, et al. (CP) and Kansas City Southern Railway et al. (KCS) (collectively, the Applicants) have voluntarily proposed the following measures to avoid impacts on the northern long-eared bat and Indiana bat. If the Surface Transportation Board (Board) authorizes the Proposed Acquisition of KCS by CP, the Applicants, their employees, and their contractors would be required to strictly adhere to these measures during construction of planned capital improvements related to the Proposed Acquisition, as well as any additional mitigation measures recommended by the Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) and imposed by the Board in its final decision.
The Applicants will not conduct construction-related tree removal for the planned capital improvements during the active season for the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat (April 1 to October 31).
During the construction of the planned capital improvements, the Applicants will take steps to reduce the unnecessary removal of bat habitat outside of active bat season by limiting tree removal to only the areas necessary to safely construct and operate the new siding or second track, marking the limits of tree clearing through the use of flagging or fencing, and ensuring that construction contractors understand clearing limits and how they are marked in the field.
Where practicable, the Applicants will conduct any culvert or bridge removal as part of the planned capital improvements outside of the roosting period of bat species, specific to each planned capital improvement location. Where practicable, if bridge or culvert removal is required during the bat roosting period where the individual planned capital improvement is located, the Applicants will consult with OEA and the local office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on appropriate methods to determine if bats are using the bridge or culvert as a roost.
If construction of the planned capital improvements would require removal or alteration of bridges, culverts, or other structures that provide suitable habitat for the northern long-eared bat or the Indiana bat during the active season for those species (April 1 to October 31), the Applicants will first conduct an inspection for the presence of or evidence of use by bats. The inspection will be completed by a qualified biologist. If the inspection finds bats or evidence of bats, then the Applicants will not commence work on the structure until coordinating with OEA and USFWS to determine appropriate follow-up or mitigative actions. The inspection must be completed during the same year that the work takes place.
During construction of the planned capital improvements, the Applicants will direct any temporary lighting away from suitable habitat for the northern long-eared bat or the Indiana bat during the active season for those species (April 1 to October 31). The Applicants will use downward-facing, full cut-off lens lights for any temporary lighting used during the construction of the planned capital improvements.
If the planned capital improvements would involve installing any new, or replacing any existing, permanent lights, the Applicants will use downward-facing, full cut-off lens lights (with the same intensity or less for replacement lighting).