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MAINE CENT. R.R. CO. v. ICC

February 24, 1975

Maine Central Railroad Company, Plaintiff
v.
Interstate Commerce Commission, George M. Stafford, Chairman, and Amoskeag Company, Defendants


Green, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

GREEN, D.J.

This matter came before the Court on plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the pleadings and papers filed in support thereof, the responses of defendants and intervening defendant, and oral presentation of all parties at argument held on February 14, 1975.

 The controversy centers on whether the defendants, Interstate Commerce Commission (hereinafter ICC) and its chairman, George Stafford, have complied with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (hereinafter NEPA), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., with regard to agency proceedings thus far completed on Consolidated ICC Finance Docket Nos. 27620 and 27621. Agency hearings were scheduled to commence on Finance Docket No. 27620 on February 18, 1975. Plaintiff sought to enjoin holdings of any hearings on the docket numbers herein until such time as ICC established procedures conforming to the requirements of NEPA and developed and circulated a valid Draft Environmental Impact Statement in accordance with the lawful procedures.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. ICC Finance Docket No. 27620 is an ICC complaint against Amoskeag Company filed April 2, 1974, by plaintiff Maine Central Railroad Company (hereinafter Maine Central), charging that Amoskeag unlawfully possesses power to control Maine Central, in violation of Section 5(4) of the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C.§ 5(4).

 2. ICC Finance Docket No. 27621, which was consolidated for all purposes with the above complaint, is an application filed April 23, 1974, by Amoskeag Company to acquire control of Maine Central pursuant to Section 5(2) of the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. § 5(2).

 3. Since the adoption of its environmental rules presently codified at 49 C.F.R. 1100.250 (adopted January 14, 1972), the ICC has failed to develop or formally propose to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), regulations or procedures governing the agency's methods for complying with the procedural provisions for the preparation of environmental impact statements established by NEPA, 42 U.S.C. § 4332, and the Guidelines of the CEQ, 40 C.F.R. § 1500 et seq., (1974).

 4. The possible environmental impact of the major federal action proposed in Consolidated ICC Finance Docket Nos. 27620 and 27621 has been the subject of substantial controversy among the public and private parties participating in the administrative proceedings. Concern is expressed over the relationship between the proceedings and the proposals of the private applicant, intervenor-defendant Amoskeag Company, for the implementation of operational changes involving Maine Central, Bangor & Aroostook Railroad Company and the Boston & Maine Railroad Company, and the possible development of a New England Railroad System.

 5. The Administrative Law Judge of defendant, ICC, in his Memorandum and Order following a prehearing conference served August 7, 1974, found that the matters raised in Consolidated ICC Finance Docket Nos. 27620 and 27621 constitute a proposal for major federal action which may significantly affect the quality of the human environment, thus requiring the issuance of a draft environmental impact statement.

 6. The Administrative Law Judge in the August 7, 1974 Order, directed the private applicant, Amoskeag Company, to submit a proposed draft environmental impact statement first, and the other parties to submit such statement at a later date covering at least the environmental issues represented by their respective interests, all in accordance with 49 C.F.R. 1100.250.

 7. The Administrative Law Judge further stated that the parties' proposals should not consider the possible environmental relationship of the proceedings to Amoskeag Company's proposals for operational changes affecting Maine Central, Bangor & Aroostook Railroad Company and the Boston & Maine Railroad Company which might be the subject matter of other proceedings before the ICC at a future date.

 8. On November 20, 1974, the Commission issued a draft environmental impact statement covering the proceedings in Consolidated ICC Finance Docket Nos. 27620 and 27621, and said statement, with only minor modifications, adopted substantially, and largely in verbatim terms, the environmental analysis and factual material provided by the submission of the private applicant, Amoskeag Company.

 9. On December 16, 1974, Maine Central, later joined by the State of Vermont, filed a petition with the ICC seeking dismissal of the application in Finance Docket No. 27621, or alternatively, a stay of the commencement of hearings pending issuance of a draft environmental impact statement which was compiled in accordance with lawful procedure.

 10. In an order served January 10, 1975, the Interstate Commerce Commission-Division 3 found that the procedures followed by the administrative law judge in many respects were inconsistent with the policies of the ICC and judicial decisions interpreting the requirements of NEPA, but denied the petition because the opportunity was available to file comments to the draft which would be given ...


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