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State Requesting to Intervene in Ninth Circuit NEPA Case

February 17, 2012, Anchorage, Alaska - Attorney General Michael Geraghty today filed a motion to intervene in a case challenging the adequacy of the environmental review of the Port MacKenzie rail line extension. The rail line will improve the state's transportation system by allowing freight to be transported to and from the Interior and Port MacKenzie.

 On November 11, 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Surface Transportation Board authorized the construction and operation of a 35-mile railroad connecting Port MacKenzie and the Alaska Railroad Corporation's (ARRC) main line north of Willow.

 The rail line will allow more efficient shipments of bulk commodities (logs, sand/gravel, coal, and cement), vehicles and heavy equipment, and mobile and modular buildings. The state previously appropriated $75 million for the project. The board concluded that the environmental analysis completed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was sufficient and that ARRC may construct the preferred alternative outlined in the environmental document. On January 20, 2012, various project opponents, including the Sierra Club, filed suit in the Ninth Circuit on the grounds that the board violated NEPA and the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

 Alaska is seeking to intervene in order to protect the state's interests. General Geraghty maintains the board followed the law, and a reversal of the board's decision would result in unnecessary delays and increased costs, which is not in the best interest of Alaska or its citizens.

 “Not only does the State of Alaska have a direct financial stake in the project, but we need to protect our ability to responsibly develop Alaska's infrastructure and natural resources," Attorney General Michael Geraghty said. 

 For more information about the case, please contact Assistant Attorney General Sean Lynch at (907) 465-3600.

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