Olmsted County going ahead with DM#x0026;E; action
By Lanier Frush Holt
Olmsted County is moving forward with legal action involving the proposed Dakota, Minnesota &; Eastern Railroad expansion, County Attorney Ray Schmitz announced at Tuesday's county board meeting.
The board, he said, has until Sept. 9 to file a brief detailing its concerns about the environmental impact statement reviewed by the federal Surface Transportation Board. After reviewing the statement, the board granted the South Dakota-based railroad the right to expand its tracks through Rochester.
Faegre and Benson, a legal firm working with the county, is in the process of compiling the brief, which includes statements regarding how air quality issues and the effects of coal dust from the trains were not taken into account when the Surface Transportation Board cleared the way for DM&E; expansion.
Further, Schmitz said, the federal board relied on outdated census information and failed to analyze the likelihood of groundwater contamination when assessing the environmental impact on the county.
"The county's position is because of the environmental concerns, we do not want them to build that railroad in Olmsted County, and that has never changed," said Commissioner Jean Michaels. "This is the most serious thing that has ever happened to this area. We should do whatever is necessary to stop this threat to our community."
About six weeks after all appellant briefs are filed, Schmitz said he expects DM&E; and the Surface Transportation Board to file a series of briefs in response. It is likely to be done in December, he said, he expects the courts to schedule oral arguments.