April 19, 2014

Judge rules in favor of BNSF in environmental suit

Mark Taylor

mtaylor@gardnernews.com

A federal judge has ruled against an environmental group that filed suit against BNSF last year claiming the intermodal development near Edgerton posed regional environmental hazards.

Skip Kalb, director of strategic development for the railroad, told members of the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce and the Southwest Johnson County EDC on June 29 the ruling was handed down the previous evening.

Kalb, keynote speaker for the chamber’s and EDC’s annual Business Appreciation Luncheon, said the judge’s 20-page decision disputed complaints in a federal lawsuit filed in 2010 by Hillsdale Environmental Loss Protection, Inc. (HELP).

“We are very pleased (with the ruling),” said, Kalb, who added that BNSF has gone to great lengths to make the project fuel efficient and to minimize environmental impacts.

HELP, along with the Kansas Natural Resource Council (KNRC) and five individuals, sued BNSF and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over what they claimed was an inefficient environmental study for the 1,000-acre development.

The plaintiffs said the development would have a significant environmental impact on local and regional air and water quality.

The lawsuit contended that the Corps of Engineer’s Environmental Assessment – which found no significant environmental impact posed by the development – relied too heavily on data provided by BNSF.

The plaintiffs called for a more intensive Environmental Impact Statement and Health Risk assessment for the development.

When contacted for comment, Mark V. Dugan, attorney representing HELP, said he is reviewing the judge’s ruling.

“We have not determined whether to appeal,” he said. “Other than that, I don’t have any substantive comment, except that obviously we are disappointed by the ruling.”

Kalb told chamber and EDC members that 85 pieces of heavy equipment are currently on the intermodal site and that construction is underway.

He said the intermodal logistics park is expected to open in the last quarter of 2013.

The opening will coincide with the construction of a new interchange at I-35 and Homestead Lane, Kalb added.

Comments

  1. I can see Skippy smiling away as he made this announcement with the slimy supporters, enablers and worthless politicians in attendance………their good times continue to roll especially when you have the help of a dictator right in your front yard………….that is my opinion………..and good ole Gilhaus was in attendance with his sidekick who will help him with the necessary propaganda to get the school bond thru and much backslapping I am sure was going on by one and all……….now they will go out into the community slidering in the grass……

  2. @Judith

    In my opinion you are to lazy to actually participate in helping a community do anything good. In my opinion you are just around to try and destroy a town and the people that actually do care. In my opinion you don’t know sh*#…… That is my opinion!

  3. Any question? says:

    The courts back BNSF.

    So how much money has been spent trying beyond reason to stop the Intermodal when it was painfully obvious it was coming anyway? All those people pulling out every desperate trick in the book, trying to stop what everyone else could see wasn’t going to be stopped. Lawsuits, and special elections, and more lawsuits, and special interests trying to buy up the mayoral and council elections, and poorly-executed attempts at seizing power of the council, and recall elections and more lawsuits.

    And the Intermodal is STILL coming.

    How much more could we have accomplished if we had chosen to work WITH BNSF to protect our interests instead of pretending that if we stood in circles, singing 60′s protest songs and suing/threatening anyone who didn’t sing along, we could somehow make BNSF go away? For all those people who are now screaming about the city budget, how much time and pain and meaningless antagonism has been wasted – along with all the MONEY that’s gone into those pursuits – all in the name of vastly unrealistic absolutism?

    What have we accomplished with all the waste of ALL of us indulging in being uncompromising, all the while BNSF was moving inexorably toward its goals? How does Gardner protect itself NOW that we’ve “uncompromised” ourselves out being able to negotiate anything with BNSF?

  4. Looks like HELP and the crew of the Dolphin Song are going to have to resort to chaining themselves to trees to get the intermodal to stop. Someone take a video please.

  5. Charlie K says:

    Very well said Any question.

    I think that pretty much sums up our situation.

  6. Our family sacrificed an entire summer canvassing the Gardner area to get petitions signed against the intermodal and passing out signs. We did this because we cared about our community, and didn’t want to see a corrupt, environmentally and otherwise irresponsible company like BNSF have control of such a huge industrial area less than a mile away from the home where we chose to raise our children. Gardner promised to be a nice place to raise kids, but that has not been our experience. Just because we met at the Dolphin song and they generously loaned us their building does not mean that everyone who was against the intermodal is associated with them. However, they were always delightful people to work with during the petition drive. May I remind you namecallers and scoffers that out of four thousand people who voted in the “intermodal election”, ONE THOUSAND Gardner residents came out and voted against the intermodal. It was not just the Dolphin Song, so I for one have had ENOUGH of your terrible bullying behavior towards them and us. Don’t think the irony is lost on what happened on the same day the BNSF ruling came out, either.

  7. I think ‘any questions?’ sums it up nicely. while it was great to think you might be able to make a difference and tried, it was not logical to think you could beat the railroad. History shows that if the railroad wants something, they make it happen.

    so now the intermodal is going in the same place and gardner is not going to benefit from it or have any say in it at all. It was a valient effort, but one which you could never win. I believe gardner has lost a lot by not having control of this project. we need to move on now, quit fighting and make it as positive for gardner as it can be.

  8. Really says you can’t beat the railroad and in the next breath is saying we lost a lot by not having CONTROL…………….like any entity is going to control those thieves and the developers – I know the worthless politicians won’t be controlling them but only enabling and supporting them with your tax dollars…..all you would have had to do is to say No, Thank You like Olathe did and many other cities across the land have done and not given them one penny of financial support and they would have kept on going down the road like they went to Edgerton when they found out they couldn’t get the thieving deal they wanted here and needed but there were more ignorant, greedy people and worthless politicians in Edgerton thinking they will get rich and have CONTROL…….ignorance is bliss but for only so long……….high price will be paid and there will be NO CONTROL and much suffering. You will be paying and paying and paying from now until doomsday for that horror story brought to you by the lowlifes and the apathy of the people……..you better get ready for the killing pollution, infrastructure costs that will be astronomical, high crime calling for more costs, the area will be the slumlords’ rental paradise, citizens will see their property values plummet even more and never come back, millions of trucks, low paying hire and fire jobs with no benefits, total loss of quality of life while the big boys will be in their ivory castles counting their greenbacks as they sip on their martinis and I know they will be very much in CONTROL………just like they are now – they can buy those politicians faster than lightning……….

  9. Really,

    I think we’d all be happier if we can just let it go. The past is the past, what’s done is done, lets just forgive each other and move on and try to heal our community, which has been greatly splintered by the events of the last few years. There is a lot of hurt, some doubts on whether or not we can trust our own city government and leaders, and important tasks ahead that need to be worked on together as a community.

  10. Judith, everywhere I have looked the property values around intermodal facilities increase not drop. Jobs are created at all levels of income. You are good at posting articles stating what you believe post some facts that show the drops that you are saying will happen. Also I would appreciate it if you would make it an apple to apples comparison not a Watermelon to pea comparison. Thanks!

  11. Just visited with a classmate, whose husband is deceased, career rail road. She gets some money, like others, for his poor health–lungs. And, she said the railroad was aware for 50 years of the hazard to the employees but still had them working under those conditions–fine particles of pollution in their lungs sort of like slivers of glass. So, she gets the dollar that her husband would have gotten for his disability, instead of hugging her much loved husband.

    IT IS ALL ABOUT THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR, NOT THE QUALITY OF LIFE.

  12. P.S. According to analysts, the Federal Government borrows 5 billion dollars a day ($5,000,000,000.00 a day). And, if the politicians raise the debt limit by August 2, 2011, we are sunk. And, if the politicians don’t raise the debt limit by August 2, 2011, we are sunk. Reason. Some have figured out they can dupe the public & have the little fellow–the taxpayer pay. Now, it has all come to an awaking– the end.

  13. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    The U.S. District Court judge, in his 20-page opinion, ruled that the U.S. Corps of Engineers sufficiently examined the environmental impacts of the proposed intermodal facility and adjacent logistics park. The environmentalists have been to court several times over this issue, each time complaining that the Corps should have conducted a broader review of the evidence provided by both sides. Each time the plaintiffs have claimed that the Corps relied too heavily on information provided by the railroad in making its conclusions about this project.

    Among other things, these lawsuits have asserted that the Corps failed to adequately address their contention of almost-certain excessive and life-threatening diesel air emissions from trucks and equipment serving the rail/warehouse facility. More than once, the federal courts have rejected that contention and ruled that no significantly detrimental environmental impact is expected from this proposed development.

    This taxpayer suggests enough is enough. While I appreciate their concerns and applaud their efforts, I think it is time for this environmental consortium to realize that the careful consideration of scientific facts in this case has consistently overruled their seemingly exaggerated and unsubstantiated predictions of almost certain doomsday pollution.

    Although HELP and KNRC are well within their rights to appeal this judicial decision, I would encourage them to move on and focus on other matters of importance. I am sure others might disagree with me, and so be it, but I think enough time and taxpayer money has been expended on this particular issue during the past five or six years.

  14. Dean, I would truly be interested in YOUR statistical information, links, articles, etc. on the good times around intermodals. I have shared many of my experiences with respect to intermodals and my talking to people across the U.S. and from all walks of life – I would like to know the details of the information you have.

  15. Jerry, enjoy the years to come……….you also supported and enabled the Beasley Bunch who dealt in lies and hate……….we all make choices based on our moral values, that is, if you have any………or a conscience……nice to know you think my and other citizens’s concerns are “exaggerated and unsubstantiated”. I could also encourage you to “focus” on certain matters but that would be a waste of my time in my opinion.

  16. Also, Jerry, if you are still living in that pithole you lived in when you signed the recall petition then it won’t bother you to see Gardner go to hell in a handbasket because you are already living in it……….

  17. Here is a little interesting fact about Elwood Ill.

    Intermodal Center

    Elwood is the home of Centerpoint Intermodal Center. The redevelopment of this property (formerly of the Joliet Arsenal), brought together virtually all levels of government, more than a dozen public agencies and private industry to benefit the community under a common plan. One of the largest private developments ever undertaken in the United States, it encompasses 2,200 acres with a total investment approaching $1 billion.

    Upon build out, the project is expected to create 8,000 new jobs and eventually increase property tax revenue by as much as $27 million per year. This state-of-the-art intermodal and industrial business park features a 770-acre intermodal yard, BNSF Logistics Park Chicago, and has the capacity for up to 12 million square feet of industrial and distribution facilities.

    Project Highlights

    Total Investment:
    $1 billion (to date)

    Site Size:
    2,200 acres

    Total Building Space:
    up to 12 million square feet

  18. Welcome to one of the largest and fastest growing counties in the United States. Because of its strategic location, Will County residents are able to experience the culture and economic opportunity of city life, the stability and family-focus of suburban life and the peaceful beauty and agricultural bounty of rural life.
    For generations, Will County has been home to people seeking well-paying jobs, housing choice, open spaces and strong communities, as well as proximity to Chicago. In the past decade, over 183,000 new residents have made Will County their home, prompting the construction of nearly 100,000 new single-family dwelling units. Will County’s population growth also stimulated a significant surge in new commercial and industrial development. By any measure – total assessed property values, aggregate income, number of new business establishments – Will County has emerged as a strong economic force in the region.
    Will County’s multi-modal transportation system is key to its economic success, past and future. Long served by multiple interstate highways, five Class I railroads and the inland waterway system, the county has prospered as a center for industry and trade. In recent years, the logistics and transportation industry has chosen to locate and expand in Will County where in addition to unmatched transportation assets, it offers available and affordable land, a skilled workforce and a pro-business approach to development. New investments in rail and intermodal have made Will County one of the largest Inland Ports in North America. Twenty-first century infrastructure connects Will County to the global economy and facilitates the movement of freight both regionally and nationally.
    Will County business leaders, elected officials, community groups, and educators have a history of working together on initiatives that promote economic opportunity and a high quality of life for all. Current workforce initiatives target math and science training, technological innovation and workplace readiness for youth. Will County continues to pursue new infrastructure projects, particularly the construction of the Illiana Expressway connecting I-65 in Indiana to I-55, and the South Suburban Airport, to enhance its global transportation assets.
    The outlook is strong in 2011. Recently, companies such as Navistar, Logoplaste, Diageo, Goglanian Bakeries and G&W Electric have chosen Will County in competitive relocation and expansion decisions. Silver Cross’ $400 million hospital project is nearing completion along the I-355 corridor and Lewis University is constructing a new $20 million Science Center.

  19. Dean, by all means let us know the author of these propaganda pieces – I have read oodles of these and usually they are written by economic development corporations, developers, railroads or other thieves who feed off the people. Please, by all means, tell us who is writing the above scripts. People get paid well to write the propaganda and you evidently are one who is all to happy to eat and drink what they are selling…….and you will be paying dearly for it……….you also are paying dearly for all of the consultants your local politicians hire to get them what they want and then hand you the bill………

  20. Dean, You obviously have not been to Elwood. They have a new city hall. new firehouse The only restaurant in town closed (lack of business) nothing on the horizon. You read the spin sheets provided by economic developers, not true reality. The facility has been there for years yet nothing for Elwood, not even any taxes for 23 years. By the way they do have jobs. You can’t afford to live in Elwood with what they pay, but they do have jobs.

  21. TruBluBlazer says:

    Looks like Governor Brownback doesn’t fully trust the Corps either. Too bad he blindly supports this cruddy project that reeks of filth. http://www.kansascity.com/2011/07/06/2997720/brownback-says-flooding-should.html

  22. Judith please explain to me why your experts are better than my experts. I believe we can go back and fourth all day long with the experts that we hand pick. So lets just cut to the chase and say my experts know more than your experts.

  23. I asked you, Dean, who was the author of your scripts………haven’t received a reply to that request and doubt if I ever will. I will never say that those who write the propaganda for the thieves and the takers ever deal in the truth – they deal in writing scripts that will get the thieves and their politicians what they want while the people suffer in so many ways in order to take care of them. Sweet deals profit those requesting and getting them – the people lose every time. I will never be a part of privitizing gains and socializing costs and losses.

  24. Judith, in the short time I’ve owned a home here, my property values have increased. I don’t know if it’s directly related to the intermodal but they only begain increasing in the last couple of years.

  25. State of Affairs says:

    To brooke-

    Good for you if you are happy. However, in Edgerton our new homes have gone down in value while our property taxes have gone up.

    P.S. Co-worker from Gardner told me that they owe more on their property in Gardner than the property value.

  26. Judith Rogers says:

    Your 2012 property appraisals will be coming out next week on March 1. Try selling your house today and see what you face. Talk to a ETHICAL realator who has sold real estate in this area for 15 or 20 years and I would hope they would be up front with you with what has happened to and with respect to property values.

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