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Six County Association of Governments Construction and Operation

On July 30, 2001, the Six County Association of Governments (SCAOG) filed a Petition for Exemption with the Surface Transportation Board (Board) for authority to construct and operate 43.2 miles of new single-track rail line in Sanpete, Sevier, and Juab Counties, Utah. This new line would connect the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) mainline about near Juab, Utah, to a proposed coal transfer terminal facility about 0.5 mile southwest of Salina, Utah. Operations over the rail line would consist of one round trip or 2 train trips per day.

On June 29, 2007, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was issued by the Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The DEIS was prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Board’s regulations for implementing NEPA, the guidance provided by the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) regulations implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA, and BLM’s and Corps’ regulations, policy procedures, and guidance documents.

Based on the comments received on the DEIS, OEA decided to prepare a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for public review and comment. OEA issued the SDEIS on May 2, 2014. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and BLM were cooperating agencies on the SDEIS. The SDEIS addressed five specific matters: (1) the range of reasonable alternatives discussed in the DEIS, (2) evaluation of three new alternative rail routes that were not studied in detail in the DEIS (Alternatives B1, B2, and B3) and re-evaluation of a route dismissed in the DEIS (Alternative N1), (3) discussion and results of wetland investigations performed by the Applicant, (4) development of additional mitigation for the potential environmental impacts on the region’s resources from the Proposed Action, and (5) a discussion of the progress of additional efforts pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act after the DEIS was issued.

OEA extended the comment period on the DEIS to coincide with the comment period for the SDEIS. OEA provided a 45-day public comment period, which ended on June 23, 2014. After the close of the comment period on the DEIS and the SDEIS, OEA prepared a Final EIS (FEIS) that considered comments received on the content and conclusions of both the DEIS and SDEIS. In addition, it sets forth the mitigation measures recommended by OEA to minimize environmental impacts associated with this project. It also contains OEA’s major conclusions based on the information available to date; consultation with Federal, state, and local agencies; input from a wide variety of organizations and citizens of Utah; and its own independent environmental analysis. OEA has identified Alternative B3/B2 as its Environmentally Preferable Alternative for the proposed new rail line because it would have the least impacts to water resources (including wetlands) and associated biological resources, as well as fewer impacts to cultural and historic resources. See project website

Major Environmental Conclusions

The major conclusions are set forth below:

Next Steps

Issuance of the FEIS concludes the environmental review process. The Board will now make a Final Decision on the Proposed Action. The Board will consider the entire environmental record, including the DEIS, the SDEIS, the FEIS, all public comments, and OEA’s final environmental recommendations, including final recommended mitigation measures.