Environmental Groups Seek to Stall Rail Spur

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough  and the Alaska Railroad Corp. have joined to oppose a court challenge to the Surface Transportation Board’s approval of construction for the Port MacKenzie Rail Extension.

Last year, the federal  STB approved a plan proposed by the Alaska Railroad and the Mat-Su Borough to construct a  rail line connecting Port MacKenzie to the railroad’s main line near Houston.

Last month, three groups, Alaska Survival, The Sierra Club, and Cook Inletkeeper filed a legal challenge to the Board’s decision in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The groups want the court to review the Surface Transportation Board’s decision  approving the  rail line.

Bob Shavelson, the advocacy director for Cook Inletkeeper, says so far, only a notice of appeal has been filed, but substantive documents will be filed later.

Mat-Su Borough mayor Larry DeVilbiss says the Borough knows little about the complaint.

The Borough and the Railroad are filing jointly to intervene in the litigation.   The Borough stands behind the Record of Decision, and DeVilbiss wants the state to back it, too. The STB spent nearly three years reviewing the potential environmental impacts and explained its findings in a 650-page Environmental Impact Statement.

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