Quick Update On The Proposed Tongue River Railroad
Those of you following the efforts of Tongue River Railroad Company to construct a coal rail line in southeastern Montana might be interested in a couple of quick updates. 1. The Surface Transportation Board is expecting to release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in late summer 2014. Earlier today, the STB held a Section 106 Historic Preservation conference call and Vicki Rutson, who runs the Office of Environmental Analysis at the STB, stated they expect to release the draft EIS in late summer 2014. She did make sure to emphasize that this timeline is subject to change. She also mentioned that the STB is taking this project extremely seriously and 1/3 of her staff is working full time on the project. 2. The Section 106* Consultation Meeting will be held in Billings, Montana on February 13 -14 and the Crowne Plaza. On a related note, the STB will be hosting a second in-person Section 106 Consultation Meeting with tribal, historic preservation, and conservation representatives in Billings. If you have any information regarding historic and cultural properties that the Tongue River Railroad may impact, this would be a good time to bring up your concerns or potential new information. If you cannot attend but would like something specific addressed, please contact me and I'll make sure it is addressed at the meeting. *The Section 106 regulations (36 CFR Part 800) require the STB to take into account the potential effects of the Tongue River Railroad on historic properties including: historic buildings, prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, artifacts, traditional cultural properties, and landscapes (both tribal and historic). 3. Review of the public testimony from 2012. As we move into the EIS process a bit further this year, I think it is good to remember what was said by the local folks (Northern Cheyenne and landowners) that will be impacted by the Tongue River Railroad at the STB Scoping Hearings held in November of 2012 in southeastern Montana. You can watch a short compilation video I put together at the beginning of this post. If the video above did not load correctly on your browser, you can reload the page or click here to see it directly on Vimeo. Thanks to Jeff King for recording the hearing. Also, if you want to dig into the project details even more, the STB has a Tongue River Railroad project website with all the documents, maps and historical information.