The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Surface Transportation Board decision that a merger between the Canadian Pacific Railway Corp. and Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. (DM&E) may proceed despite the lack of an environmental impact study (EIS) under NEPA. Commuter Rail Div. of the Reg’l Transp. Auth. v. Surface Transp. Bd., No. 08-1346 (D.C. Cir. 6/15/10). The Sierra Club challenged the board’s decision to allow Canadian Pacific to defer an EIS until it moves forward with a construction project to connect DM&E’s track in South Dakota to coal mines in Wyoming. The proposed rail extension was approved in 2006, and the EIS for that project was found to meet NEPA’s requirements at the time. The Sierra Club argued that the failure to consider the effects of the DM&E acquisition together with the proposed rail extension violated NEPA because the coal train traffic would cause noise and air pollution and disturb wildlife in South Dakota.
The three-judge panel disagreed, ruling that the Sierra Club lacked standing because it was unable to demonstrate how its members would be injured by the board’s decision. The court noted that the decision prohibits Canadian Pacific from transporting coal from the proposed rail extension over lines operated by DM&E until the company performs an EIS.