The Surface Transportation Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) on Friday issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed Acquisition of Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) by Canadian Pacific Railway.
Links to the document are on the Board’s website and on the project website.
What will happen if this proposal goes through?
If the Surface Transportation Board authorizes the Proposed Acquisition, CP and KCS would combine into a single rail system to be known as Canadian Pacific Kansas City, the document says.
The combined CPKC network would include about 20,350 miles of track in total, including about 8,600 miles in the U.S., and would extend from Canada, through the U.S., and into Mexico. The Proposed Acquisition would be an “end-to-end” merger because CP and KCS do not overlap.
Among the safety concerns in the document are:
- Freight and rail safety: OEA expects that the Proposed Acquisition would result in only minor adverse impacts on freight rail safety. As discussed in Section 3.1, Freight and Passenger Rail Safety, the probability of an accident, such as a derailment or collision, occurring on a particular rail line depends, in part, on the number of trains that move on that rail line. Therefore, the projected increase in rail traffic that would occur as a result of the Proposed Acquisition would increase the predicted risk of an incident (such as a derailment or other accident) occurring on certain rail lines in the combined CPKC system. Across all the rail lines in the combined CPKC system, OEA projects that the greatest increase in the number of incidents would occur on the rail line segment between Muscatine and Ottumwa, Iowa. On that segment, OEA projects that the number of incidents would increase by approximately 0.32 incidents per year from approximately 0.11 incidents per year under the No-Action Alternative to approximately 0.43 incidents per year under the Proposed Acquisition. Other rail lines in the combined CPKC system would experience smaller increases in the number of incidents. OEA expects that most incidents would be minor and would not result in any injuries or
- Grade crossings: OEA expects that the Proposed Acquisition would result in only minor adverse impacts on safety at highway/rail at-grade crossings. The Proposed Acquisition would also result in only minor adverse impacts on grade crossing delay.
- Traffic: The Proposed Acquisition could affect traffic on roadways by diverting freight from truck to rail, which would reduce the number of trucks traveling on highways, and by increasing operational activities at certain inter-modal facilities, which would increase the number of trucks traveling on the local roads that provide access to those inter-modal facilities. OEA concludes that the Proposed Acquisition would not result in any adverse impacts to traffic and roadway systems as a result of truck-to-rail diversions.
- Rail traffic: The applicants expect that the Proposed Acquisition would create new operational efficiencies and would divert freight from other railroads and from trucks. As a result, rail traffic would increase on some rail lines in the combined CPKC rail network.
- Noise: EA recognizes that such rail-related noise can annoy people who live, work, or recreate near an active rail line, and many commenters expressed concern during scoping that the Proposed Acquisition could result in adverse noise impacts. People are particularly sensitive to noise in certain locations, including residences, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and places of worship, which are collectively known as noise-sensitive receptors. OEA notes that receptors located near existing CP and KCS rail lines already experience intermittent train noise and have for many years. OEA does not expect that the Proposed Acquisition would cause individual trains on those rail lines to become substantially louder or to become audible in places where they are not currently. However, the projected increase in rail traffic from the Proposed Acquisition would make rail-related noise more frequent, which would result in a higher day-night average noise level (Ldn) at many receptors
- Air pollution: OEA expects that the Proposed Acquisition would not result in an overall increase in air pollutant emissions, including GHG emissions, and could result in an overall decrease in emissions due to the expected diversion of freight from truck to rail transportation and the resulting removal of approximately 64,000 trucks per year from highways. Although OEA expects that the Proposed Acquisition would not result in an increase in overall air emissions and could result in an overall decrease in emissions, the Proposed Acquisition would change the local distribution of emissions by diverting trains from other rail lines and OEA expects that localized emissions of air pollutants from locomotives would increase along some rail line segments within the CPKC system To support this expected increase in rail traffic, the Applicants plan to make capital improvements within the existing rail right-of-way, which would include adding new passing sidings, extending existing sidings, adding a section of double track, and adding facility working track at a total of 25 locations along the combined CPKC network.
- Energy resources: Overall, OEA expects that the Proposed Acquisition would not increase the movement of energy resources in North America but would divert some energy resources from truck transportation to rail transportation and from other rail lines to the combined CPKC system.
- Plants and animals: Although the Proposed Acquisition would result in increased rail traffic on certain rail lines in the combined CPKC system, OEA concludes that this projected increase in rail traffic would not adversely affect plants, fish, or habitat. The rail lines on which rail traffic would increase have been in operation for many years, and any wildlife living near the rail lines will have become habituated to the presence of the rail line, the occasional presence of passing trains, and intermittent rail-related noise. The number of animal strikes by trains could potentially increase as a result of the Proposed Acquisition but would remain insignificant relative to other causes of injury and mortality.
- Hazardous spills: Although commenters expressed concern that the projected increase in rail traffic resulting from the Proposed Acquisition would increase the risk of spills of hazardous materials into waterways, the probability of an incident occurring that could result in a release of hazardous materials into waterways or onto the ground where it affect groundwater is and would remain very low.
What is the No-Action Alternative?
The Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) prepared this Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) to analyze the environmental impacts of the Proposed Acquisition. OEA also considered the No-Action Alternative, which would occur if the Board were to deny authority for CP to acquire KCS.
Under the No-Action Alternative, OEA anticipates that rail traffic would increase only on the CP and KCS networks as a result of general economic growth and that the applicants would not add the planned capital improvements. The Final EIS describes the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of the Proposed Acquisition on freight and passenger safety, grade crossing safety and delay, truck to rail diversion, inter-modal facility traffic, noise, air quality, climate change, energy, cultural resources, hazardous material release sites, biological resources, water resources, and Environmental Justice.
The Final EIS also responds to all substantive comments received on the Draft EIS and sets forth environmental mitigation measures that the Applicants have voluntarily proposed, as well as OEA’s additional recommended mitigation measures.
If the Board decides to authorize the Proposed Acquisition, the Board could impose the Applicants’ voluntary mitigation measures and OEA’s additional recommended mitigation measures as conditions of that decision.
The history of the proposal and the document
On August 5, 2022, OEA issued a Draft EIS for public review and comment; comments were due Sept. 26, 2022. In response to requests to extend the comment period, the Board granted an extension to Oct. 14, 2022. During the comment period, OEA hosted seven public meetings to present findings in the Draft EIS and hear oral comments, including three online public meetings and in-person public meetings in Itasca, Illinois; Davenport; Excelsior Springs, Missouri; and Beaumont, Texas.
Also, during the comment period, OEA conducted site visits to observe current conditions in areas that could experience impacts, including Houston, Texas; Port Arthur, Texas; Camanche, Iowa; Davenport, Iowa; Muscatine, Iowa; Fredonia/Columbus Junction, Iowa; Clinton, Iowa; Bensenville, Illinois; Itasca, Illinois; Elgin, Illinois and Wood Dale, Illinois (the site visits
between Elgin and Bensenville included riding the Metra MD-W line). In addition to oral comments, OEA also accepted written comments on the Draft EIS by mail, email, and via the Board-sponsored project website.
OEA received comments from a wide range of stakeholders, including residents of towns and cities and rural lands, government and community leaders from many levels, tribal leaders and tribal members, groups and individuals representing environmental interests, land and water managers, emergency service providers, including police, fire fighters, and medical personnel, and transit and freight rail organizations, among many others.
OEA received about 700 comments during the comment period. OEA has considered and responded to all comments received on the Draft EIS in this Final EIS. As noted above, the Final EIS consists of the Draft EIS with changes made to the text of the Draft EIS appearing in red and blue in the Final EIS (track changes indicate the language deleted in red and new language added appears in blue, and these appear online).
What happens next?
The Final EIS sets forth OEA’s conclusions regarding the potential environmental impacts of the Proposed Acquisition of KCS by CP and OEA’s final recommendations to the Board, including recommendations that the Board impose the Applicants’ voluntary environmental mitigation and additional environmental mitigation developed by OEA. The Board will now issue a final decision that will consider the transportation merits of the Proposed Acquisition and the entire environmental record, including the Draft EIS, Final EIS, and all comments received. In making its final decision, the Board will consider the entire record, including the record on the transportation merits, the Draft EIS, Final EIS, and all public and agency comments.
In its final decision, the Board will decide whether the Proposed Acquisition should be authorized and, if so, what conditions, including environmental mitigation conditions, to impose.