STB to Consider Environmental Impacts of CP-KCS Merger

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) will assess environmental impacts of the proposed Canadian Pacific (CP)-Kansas City Southern (KCS) merger; it's expected that the environmental review process will wrap up by fall 2022.

The STB’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) on Nov. 12 issued a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS; download below). It determined the statement was necessary because the CP-KCS merger has the potential to result in “significant environmental impacts.”

The EIS will focus on how changes in rail operations and vehicular traffic on roadways and in intermodal facilities, as well as capital improvements could impact the environment if CP and KCS were to combine. Impacts may relate to noise, safety, air quality, wildlife or plant habitats, and water resources (such as streams and wetlands).

While the merger would be “end-to-end” since the railroads’ networks do not overlap, it would lead to rail traffic changes on portions of the combined network, according to STB. (See map below.) “Rail traffic would increase on some rail line segments and would decrease on others,” the agency reported. “Certain rail lines in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas … would experience increases in rail traffic of at least eight additional trains per day. The largest change would occur on the CP mainline between Sabula, Iowa, and Kansas City, Missouri, which would experience an increase in rail traffic of approximately 14.4 additional trains per day, on average. Increases in operational activities at rail yards and intermodal facilities would also occur.

“To support increased rail traffic on the combined network, the Applicants [CP and KCS] propose to add new passing sidings or extend existing passing sidings at 24 locations within the rail right-of-way as part of the proposed acquisition. Sidings would be added or extended at locations in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. The Applicants also propose to add approximately four miles of double track within the right-of-way along the KCS Pittsburg Subdivision in Missouri and to add approximately five miles of facility working track within the right-of-way adjacent to the International Freight Gateway intermodal terminal in Missouri. The Applicants do not propose to construct any new rail lines that would require a license from the Board or to abandon any rail lines as part of the proposed acquisition.”

Environmental Review Process

The OEA’s Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS begins the scoping period, the first step of the environmental review process.

The OEA will be accepting comments on the scope of the EIS, including alternatives and issues to be analyzed in the EIS, until Dec. 17, 2021. It will hold six online public scoping meetings during the scoping comment period in November and December.

OEA expects to issue a final scope of study for the EIS in early 2022, after which it will issue a Draft EIS in spring 2022 and a Final EIS in fall 2022. The Final EIS will address comments on the Draft EIS from the public; federal, state and local agencies; and other interested parties, and it will set forth OEA’s final recommended environmental mitigation.

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