Federal agency finds ‘negligible’ environmental impact with approval of CP-KCS merger

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 11:11 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Officials with the Surface Transportation Board released their Final Environmental Impact Statement on the pending merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railways.

In the 400-page document, the board’s Office of Environmental Analysis looked at a potential merger’s impact on the environment and compared it to no merger at all.

Ultimately, the agency concluded most of the adverse impacts of the merger are “negligible, minor and/or temporary.”

The final statement outlines a segment between Sabula, Iowa, and Kansas City, Missouri, as the area that will see 14.5 trains per day, the highest potential increase along the route.

In terms of rail safety, the agency found the greatest increase in the probability of an accident would happen between Muscatine Iowa, and Ottumwa, Iowa. The report said incidents on that stretch would increase from .32 to .43 a year.

It also found the greatest average increase in delay while waiting for a train to cross would occur on Ripley Street in Davenport.

Meanwhile, the risk of hazardous material spills that could harm waterways or wildlife was found to be“very low.”

Other areas with low impact included energy usage, historical sites, and air quality.

However, the study identified noise and vibration as factors that would be adversely affected. It found noise receptors in Clinton, Scott and Muscatine Counties in Iowa, as three of the four most affected in the whole country.

CP Spokesman Andy Cummings said the company is still reviewing the impact statement.

“We would like to thank the Surface Transportation Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis for its thorough review of the proposed CP-KCS combination,” Cummings said in a written statement. “CP remains committed to working with communities as we advance through this process and looks forward to receiving the STB’s decision on the CP-KCS merger application.”

The process started in November 2021 when CP filed its notice of intent to acquire KCS. Since then, the OEA determined what factors needed to be studied in terms of environmental impact.

In August, the agency released its draft environmental impact statement and sought public comments regarding the merger and its impact on the environment.

On Jan. 27, it released its final environmental impact statement.

During that time, CP reached settlements with six Quad City Area local governments, totaling just over $18 million.

Clinton, LeClaire, Bettendorf, Davenport, Muscatine, and Fruitland all could receive money if the merger goes through.

The railway did this in an effort to offset any negative impacts created by increased train traffic. The agreements hinged on the cities not speaking out against the merger.

The impact statement was the final step before the STB could make a decision. There is a 30-day waiting. The earliest the agency could decide is Feb. 27.