Petition for Review of Surface Transportation Board's Approval of Railroad Acquisition

By FindLaw Staff on June 15, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Commuter Rail Div. v. Surface Transp. Bd., No. 08-1346, involved a petition for review of the Surface Transportation Board's approval of the acquisition of certain railroads by another railroad.  The court of appeals denied the petition, holding that 1) one petitioner lacked standing because, if the board's decision were overturned, the construction authorization would not be affected and no new environmental impact statement would be required for the area; and 2) the board did not abuse its discretion in approving the transaction.

As the court wrote:  "Canadian Pacific Railway Corporation (CPR), along with its indirect subsidiary Soo Line Holding Company (Soo Holding), and Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corporation (DME), along with its subsidiary Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad Corporation (ICE), (collectively Applicants) applied to the Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board) for approval of a merger in which Soo Holding (and indirectly CPR) was to
acquire DME and ICE. They filed the application under 49 U.S.C. § 11324, which authorizes the Board to initiate a proceeding to approve various transactions within its jurisdiction, including the acquisition of one or more railroads by another railroad. See 49 U.S.C. §§ 11324(a), 11323. The STB approved the acquisition. Canadian Pac. Ry. Co.--Control--Dakota, Minn. & E. R.R. Corp., 2008 WL 4415850 (STB September 30, 2008) (DME Acquisition). Metra and the Sierra Club seek review of the STB's decision approving the acquisition. Metra challenges the Board's refusal to attach "conditions" to the approval, pursuant to 49 U.S.C.
§ 11324(c), in order to protect Metra's rights over its track line running north from Chicago toward Wisconsin over which Soo Holding has trackage rights and for which CPR is the dispatcher. Sierra Club challenges the Board's decision to defer preparation of an environmental impact study (EIS) until CPR decides whether to move forward with the construction of a line connecting DME's track in South Dakota to certain coal mines located in Wyoming's Powder River Basin (PRB). For the reasons set out below, we dismiss Sierra Club's petition for lack of constitutional standing and deny Metra's petition because the
Board's approval of the merger was not an abuse of its discretion."

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