Railroad seeks land condemnation: Jackson Hole WY Star-Tribune, 7/6/07

By Dustin Bleizeffer

The Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern [DM&E] Railroad has filed lawsuits against several landowners in northeast Wyoming seeking condemnation of some 1,200 linear acres.

It is the first time DM&E has taken eminent domain action in Wyoming for its proposed rail expansion into the state. The company wants to build 278 miles of new rail line into Wyoming to access the Powder River Basin coal mining district, which currently is served by two rail companies.

According to filings in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne last week, DM&E wants to use eminent domain power to gain "permanent easements/rights-of-way across the property to allow them to locate, construct, operate, repair, and maintain the railroad."

"Public interest and necessity require this project," DM&E stated in court filings. "The project creates additional capacity to transport one of Wyoming's key natural resources, coal, to market."

DM&E wants to take land from some 19 landowners in Converse, Weston, Campbell and Niobrara counties for its proposed railroad expansion, which has been approved by the federal Surface Transportation Board.

DM&E declined to comment this week. DM&E's attorneys with the firm of Holland & Hart didn't return calls for comment.

Under Wyoming's current set of eminent domain laws, a private company, municipality, railroad, utility or telecommunications company can take private property - and not just for major power lines, roads and other things that can be construed as a benefit to the general public.

Jackson Hole WY Star-Tribune: http://www.jacksonholestartrib.com