[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 146 (Friday, July 31, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38256-38259]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-18276]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Surface Transportation Board

[STB Finance Docket No. 35116]


R.J. Corman Railroad Company/Pennsylvania Lines Inc.--
Construction and Operation Exemption--In Clearfield County, PA

ACTION: Notice of Availability of the Final Scope of Study for the 
Environmental Impact Statement.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: On May 20, 2008, R.J. Corman Railroad Company/Pennsylvania 
Lines Inc. (RJCP) filed a petition with the Surface Transportation 
Board (Board) pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10502 for authority to construct 
and operate an abandoned 10.8-mile rail line between Wallaceton 
Junction and Winburne in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania (the Western 
Segment) and to reactivate a connecting 9.3-mile line between Winburne 
and Gorton in Clearfield and Centre Counties, Pennsylvania (the Eastern 
Segment) that is currently being used for interim trail use, subject to 
the possible restoration of rail service (rail banking) pursuant to the 
Trails Act, 16 U.S.C. 1247(d). In total, the proposed project would 
involve the construction, rebuilding, and operation of approximately 20 
miles of the former Beech Creek Rail Line to serve a new quarry, 
landfill, and industrial park being developed by Resource Recovery, 
LLC, near Gorton, Pennsylvania.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ On July 27, 2009, the Board issued a decision finding that 
RJCP does not need construction authority under 49 U.S.C. 10901 or 
49 U.S.C. 10502 to reactivate the rail banked Eastern Segment. 
Nevertheless, the environmental review process will encompass the 
entire 20 miles of proposed rail line (i.e., both the Eastern and 
Western Segments), for the reasons discussed in the Draft Scope of 
Study and the Board's July 27th decision. See R.J. Corman Railroad 
Company/Pennsylvania Lines Inc.--Construction and Operation 
Exemption--In Clearfield County, PA, STB Finance Docket No. 35116 
(STB served July 27, 2009).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Because this project has the potential to result in significant 
environmental impacts, the Board's Section of Environmental Analysis 
(SEA) has determined that the preparation of an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) is appropriate pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). On 
January 8, 2009, SEA published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an 
EIS in the Federal Register announcing the start of the scoping 
process, the availability of the Draft Scope of Study, and the date/
time/location for a public scoping meeting. Invitation letters for the 
public scoping meeting were mailed to 31 federal, state, and local 
agencies, as well as local elected officials. Additionally, an 
advertisement was placed in two local area newspapers, the Centre Daily 
Times and the Progress News, to announce the public scoping meeting.
    Approximately 130 individuals attended the open-house scoping 
meeting held on February 10, 2009 at the Philipsburg-Osceola Area 
Senior High School in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. In total, SEA 
received:
     100 comments from individuals attending the open house 
meeting;
     13 comment letters; and
     17 individual comments filed electronically on the Board's 
Web site/e-mail.

[[Page 38257]]

    Based on the comments received and further analysis, SEA has 
prepared the Final Scope of Study for the EIS, which is included in 
this notice.
    Address for Further Information: Written requests for further 
information on the proposed project should be directed to: Danielle 
Gosselin, Surface Transportation Board, 395 E Street, SW., Washington, 
DC 20423.
    Electronic requests may be made via the Board's Web site, http://www.stb.dot.gov, by clicking on the ``E-FILING'' link. Please refer to 
STB Finance Docket No. 35116 in all correspondence, including e-
filings, addressed to the Board.
    Environmental Review Process: The NEPA environmental review process 
is intended to assist the Board and the public in identifying and 
assessing the potential environmental consequences of a proposed action 
before a decision on the proposed action is made. Based on the 
information provided in RJCP's filing, and the project's potential to 
result in significant environmental impacts, SEA (the office within the 
Board responsible for preparing the Board's environmental documentation 
under NEPA, and related environmental statutes) has decided to prepare 
a full EIS. The EIS will include all of the environmental information 
necessary for the Board to take the hard look at environmental 
consequences required by NEPA.
    On January 8, 2009, SEA issued a NOI to individuals and agencies 
potentially interested in or affected by the proposed project informing 
them of the Board's decision to prepare an EIS and to initiate the 
formal scoping process. In the NOI, SEA also made available the Draft 
Scope of Study and requested comments. A public scoping meeting was 
held and comments were received between January 8, 2009 and February 
24, 2009. After carefully reviewing the public comments, SEA is issuing 
this Final Scope of Study for the EIS.
    The Draft EIS will address the environmental issues and concerns 
identified during the scoping process and detailed in this Final Scope 
of Study. It will also include an analysis of project alternatives and 
preliminary recommendations for environmental mitigation measures.
    The Draft EIS will be made available upon its completion for review 
and comment by the public, government agencies, and other interested 
parties. A public meeting will be held during the comment period for 
the Draft EIS. The details of the public meeting, including the 
specific format, location, and date, will be available in the Draft 
EIS. SEA will then prepare a Final EIS that considers comments on the 
Draft EIS, sets forth any additional analyses, and makes final 
recommendations to the Board on appropriate mitigation measures. In 
reaching its decision in this case, the Board will take into account 
the full environmental record, including the Draft EIS, the Final EIS, 
and all timely environmental comments that are received.
    Discussion: The principal issues raised by commenters during 
scoping are briefly outlined and responded to below. Many of the 
comments submitted raised the same or similar issues. Thus, SEA has 
used the plural term, ``commenters'' to refer to all persons submitting 
comments, including individuals.

Nature of the Public Scoping Meeting

    A number of comments were submitted relating to the format of the 
public scoping meeting held on February 10, 2009. Several commenters 
expressed disappointment in the open-house/plans display meeting format 
used for the public scoping meeting. At the meeting, project personnel 
were staffed at display boards, and formal comment sheets were 
available. However, commenters indicated that they would have preferred 
a public meeting format with a formal project presentation followed by 
an audience-wide question and answer session. Many commenters noted 
that they did not feel as if they were able to effectively voice their 
concerns about the project.
    The open-house/plans display style of public meeting that was held 
in this case is often used in the early stages of project development 
to allow more individual interaction between the project study team and 
the public. The format used here is particularly appropriate for public 
scoping meetings, where one of the primary reasons for the meeting is 
for the project study team to gather important project-related 
information from the public, rather than to present the findings of 
detailed studies, which would not have occurred yet in the early stages 
of a project. SEA recognizes the importance of providing opportunities 
for public comment. All interested parties, agencies, government 
entities, and members of the general public will have the opportunity 
to submit written comments upon release of the Draft EIS and prior to 
issuance of the Final EIS and to participate at the additional public 
meeting that will be held in the project area when the Draft EIS has 
been issued. Therefore, attendees at the public scoping meeting who 
were disappointed with the scoping meeting format will have additional 
opportunities to express their views and concerns about this project as 
the environmental review process proceeds.

Proposed Action and Alternatives

Connected Action Issue

    Many of the concerns that emerged through the scoping process 
involved Resource Recovery's proposed landfill, quarry and industrial 
park development near Gorton in Rush Township, Centre County, and the 
nature of the materials that would be transported by RJCP over the 
proposed rail line. In fact, the vast majority of comments received 
were related to Resource Recovery's proposed landfill itself. 
Commenters indicated that they oppose the proposed landfill. In 
addition, a number of commenters requested that the Board expand the 
scope of the EIS to include the development of the landfill. These 
commenters argued that the proposed rail line and the landfill 
development should be considered connected actions under 40 CFR 
1508.25. Commenters maintained that without the landfill, the rail line 
would not be commercially feasible.
    Based on the available information to date including additional 
information submitted by RJCP and information provided by the public, 
SEA has determined that expanding the scope of the EIS to include the 
landfill development as a connected action is not warranted. As 
indicated in the Draft Scope of Study, however, the landfill, quarry 
and industrial park will be appropriately examined in the Draft EIS as 
part of the cumulative impacts analysis for the proposed project. The 
Draft EIS will include further detailed discussion of this connected 
action issue as well.

Alternate Route to Munson

    One commenter at the public scoping meeting suggested that an 
alternate route to Munson was available that would potentially avoid 
and minimize many of the socioeconomic, transportation and safety, 
noise, and land use impacts associated with RJCP's proposed Western 
Segment, which stretches 10.8 miles between Wallaceton and Winburne. 
The alternate alignment, known as the Munson Alternative, would utilize 
approximately 7 miles of the former Conrail right of way last referred 
to as the Philipsburg Industrial Track. This route would extend south 
from Munson to a point near Philipsburg. Like the rest of the Western 
Segment, the Philipsburg Industrial Track was also part of the 
``Clearfield Cluster'' abandoned by Conrail in 1995

[[Page 38258]]

pursuant to ICC Docket No. AB-167 (Sub-No. 1146X). The alternate 
alignment follows the Western Segment west from Winburne to Munson, but 
then heads south over the former Philipsburg Industrial Track. At the 
southern end of the Philipsburg Industrial Track, a new 2,500-foot 
connection would be constructed to tie into RJCP's existing Wallaceton 
Subdivision line at or near milepost 24.62.
    It appears that this alternate route would avoid and minimize a 
number of the potential environmental issues associated with RJCP's 
Western Segment by impacting significantly fewer adjacent homes and by 
crossing fewer public roads and private drives. According to RJCP, this 
alternate route would provide rail service to several new shippers. 
Operationally, this alternative alignment would require approximately 
4.5 miles of additional travel over RJCP's active Wallaceton 
Subdivision (i.e., Wallaceton Junction to milepost 24.62 outside 
Philipsburg), but would involve slightly less construction activity (8 
miles from Wallaceton to Munson reduced to 7 miles from Philipsburg to 
Munson plus \1/2\ mile of new connecting track). Therefore, the Munson 
Alternative will be included for detailed study as part of the EIS 
alternatives analysis process.

Environmental Impact Categories

Transportation and Safety

    Some commenters expressed concern about RJCP's planned transport of 
municipal solid waste over the proposed rail line, raising issues 
related to containment during transport, leakage during transport, and 
environmental damage/degradation associated with potential derailment. 
These issues will be included and evaluated as part of the 
transportation and safety section of the EIS.

Air Quality

    Some commenters expressed concern about the potential for odors 
emanating from rail cars hauling municipal solid waste. To address 
these comments, the air quality scope of work has been revised to 
include a qualitative assessment of this issue.

Biological Resources

    Some commenters expressed concern regarding the potential for 
vermin/vectors and disease associated with the transport of municipal 
solid waste. Based on these comments, the biological resources scope of 
work has been revised to include an evaluation of this issue.

Socioeconomics

    Some commenters raised concerns about quality of life issues for 
residential property owners adjacent to the proposed rail line. Quality 
of life issues for adjacent property owners will be evaluated and 
presented as part of the study of potential socioeconomic impacts of 
the project in the EIS.

Final Scope of Study for the EIS

Proposed Action and Alternatives

    The Proposed Action is the construction and operation of an 
abandoned 10.8-mile rail line between Wallaceton Junction and Winburne 
and the reactivation of 9.3 miles of currently rail banked line between 
Winburne and Gorton. The approximately 20 miles of track would allow 
RJCP to provide rail service to a proposed new landfill, quarry and 
industrial park being developed by Resource Recovery, LLC, near Gorton 
in Rush Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania. The anticipated train 
traffic would be two trains daily, with one train per day traveling in 
each direction. In addition to the Proposed Action, the EIS will 
analyze the potential impacts of two non-rail transportation options 
for the no-build alternative and a no-action alternative set forth 
below. Additionally, the Munson Alternative using the abandoned line of 
Conrail's former Philipsburg Industrial Track will be evaluated in the 
EIS.
    Specifically, the reasonable and feasible alternatives that will be 
evaluated in the EIS are: (1) Construction and operation of the 
proposed rail line along the former Beech Creek line (including the 
alternate route to Munson using Conrail's former Philipsburg Industrial 
Track), (2) the no-build alternative option 1 involving the 
construction of a new interchange on Interstate 80, (3) the no-build 
alternative option 2, involving improving the existing local road 
system (i.e., road paving, bridge replacement etc.), and (4) the no-
action alternative (i.e., status quo, no rail construction and 
reactivation or roadway improvements).

Environmental Impact Analysis

Proposed New Construction and Reactivation and Operation of Rail Banked 
Line
    The EIS will address the proposed activities associated with the 
construction of new rail line, the reactivation of rail banked line and 
the operation of approximately 20 miles of rail line and potential 
environmental impacts, as appropriate.
Impact Categories
    The EIS will analyze the potential impacts associated with the 
proposed project on both the human and natural environment, or in the 
case of the no-action alternative, the lack of these impacts. Impact 
areas to be addressed will include the following: Transportation and 
safety; land use; energy resources; air quality; noise; biological 
resources, including threatened and endangered species; water 
resources, including wetlands and other jurisdictional waters of the 
U.S.; socioeconomics as it relates to physical changes in the 
environment; recreation; environmental justice; geology and soils; and 
cultural/historic resources. The EIS will include a discussion of each 
of these categories as they currently exist in the project area and 
will address the potential impacts of each alternative on each 
category, as outlined below.
1. Transportation and Safety
    The EIS will:
    a. Evaluate potential pedestrian and motor vehicle safety concerns 
at each public and private at-grade road crossing.
    b. Include a ``level of service'' (LOS) analysis, focusing on 
average vehicle delay time for all grade crossings having an average 
daily traffic volume of 5,000 or more vehicles.
    c. Include an assessment of any appropriate safety measures that 
should be erected at each crossing.
    d. Assess the project's operational safety (including the potential 
for derailments), taking into account the proposed line's close 
proximity to residential structures.
    e. Evaluate the project's consistency with local and regional 
transportation planning goals.
    f. Assess the potential for increased wildfires in remote forested 
areas as a result of daily rail operations.
    g. Propose mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project-related impacts to safety, as appropriate.
2. Land Use
    The EIS will:
    a. Identify existing land uses that would be potentially impacted 
by the project.
    b. Evaluate potential changes to property values of adjacent 
property owners that could result from the proposed project.
    c. Evaluate the project's consistency with local and regional land 
use planning goals.
    d. Propose mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
impacts to land use, as appropriate.

[[Page 38259]]

3. Energy Resources
    The EIS will:
    a. Describe the potential effects of the project on energy 
resources, recyclable commodities, and overall changes in energy 
efficiency.
    b. Propose mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
impacts to energy resources, as appropriate.
4. Air Quality
    The EIS will:
    a. Quantitatively evaluate rail operation air emissions, if the 
project would affect a Class I or non-attainment or maintenance area as 
designated under the Clean Air Act.
    b. Qualitatively evaluate the potential temporary air quality 
impacts that would result from the proposed rail line construction 
activities.
    c. Qualitatively evaluate the potential for ambient odors that 
would be associated with the transport of municipal solid waste.
    d. Propose mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project-related impacts to air quality, as appropriate.
5. Noise/Vibration
    The EIS will:
    a. Quantitatively evaluate potential noise impacts, including the 
use of any auditory warning devices at public road crossings that would 
result from the proposed rail operations.
    b. Qualitatively evaluate the temporary noise impact that would 
result from the proposed rail line construction activities.
    c. Qualitatively evaluate potential vibration impacts to residences 
and businesses immediately adjacent to the proposed rail line.
    d. Propose mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project-related impacts to sensitive noise receptors, (locations where 
people may be adversely affected by project-related noise), as 
appropriate.
6. Biological Resources
    The EIS will:
    a. Evaluate the existing biological resources within the project 
area, including vegetative communities, terrestrial and aquatic 
habitats, and known wildlife species.
    b. Evaluate potential impacts of this project on any Federal or 
state threatened and endangered plant or animal species.
    c. Describe the proposed project's impact on any wildlife 
sanctuaries, refuges, national and state parks/forests, or state game 
lands.
    d. Evaluate the potential for vermin/vectors for disease that would 
be associated with the transport of municipal solid waste, as a result 
of this project.
    e. Document all coordination and consultation that has been 
conducted with Federal and state agencies having jurisdiction over 
biological resources.
    f. Propose mitigation measures to avoid, minimize or compensate for 
potential impacts to biological resources, as appropriate.
7. Water Resources
    The EIS will:
    a. Describe the existing surface water resources that have been 
identified within the project area, including all jurisdictional 
wetlands and waterways and their regulatory floodplains.
    b. Evaluate project-related impacts to all jurisdictional surface 
water resources.
    c. Evaluate project-related impacts to all groundwater resources 
and public water supplies.
    d. Document the necessary Federal and state water resource/
encroachment permitting requirements that would apply to the proposed 
project.
    e. Propose mitigation measures to avoid, minimize or compensate for 
potential impacts to water resources, as appropriate.
8. Socioeconomics
    The EIS will:
    a. Summarize the existing local and regional socioeconomic 
conditions in the project area, including long-term population, housing 
and employment metrics.
    b. Document the locations of existing community facilities and 
services that have been identified within the project area.
    c. Evaluate the proposed project's potential impact to 
socioeconomic conditions/community facilities and services within the 
project area, including a discussion of any issues, such as employment 
gains and losses that would result from the proposed project.
    d. Propose mitigation measures to avoid, minimize or compensate for 
potential impacts to regional socioeconomic factors, as appropriate.
9. Recreation
    The EIS will:
    a. Identify existing public and private recreational facilities 
within the project area (including the Snow Shoe Multi-Use Rail Trail), 
and evaluate the proposed project's impact to these recreational 
facilities.
    b. Propose mitigation measures to avoid, minimize, or compensate 
for potential project-related impacts to recreational facilities, as 
appropriate.
10. Environmental Justice
    The EIS will:
    a. Evaluate the potential project impacts on local and regional 
minority and low-income populations.
    b. Propose mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts on environmental justice populations, as appropriate.
11. Geology and Soils
    The EIS will:
    a. Describe the geologic and soil conditions within the project 
area, including the status of past and present coal mining operations.
    b. Evaluate potential ways to avoid or construct through active 
surface mined areas, to the extent practicable.
    c. Propose mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts to geology and soils, as appropriate.
12. Cultural/Historic Resources
    The EIS will:
    a. Document all historic resource eligibility and effect studies 
that have been conducted pursuant to Section 106 of the National 
Historic Preservation Act.
    b. Document all coordination and consultation related to this 
project that has taken place with the state historic preservation 
officer.
    c. Propose mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts to cultural/historic resources, as appropriate.
13. Cumulative and Indirect Impacts
    The EIS will:
    a. Address any identified potential cumulative impacts of the 
project, as appropriate. Cumulative impacts are the impacts on the 
environment which result from the incremental impact of the proposed 
action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable 
future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-federal) or 
person undertakes such actions (for example, Resource Recovery, LLC's 
proposed new landfill, quarry and industrial park).
    b. Address any identified potential indirect impacts of the 
project, as appropriate. Indirect impacts are impacts that are caused 
by the action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but 
are still reasonably foreseeable.

    Decided: July 28, 2009.

    By the Board, Victoria Rutson, Chief, Section of Environmental 
Analysis.
Kulunie L. Cannon,
Clearance Clerk.
[FR Doc. E9-18276 Filed 7-30-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4915-01-P