The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has approved a permit for the BNSF rail expansion through the La Crosse River Marsh.
The permit allows BNSF to fill about 7.2 acres of wetland within the marsh and to build a bridge over the river.
In October, the La Crosse City Council voted to approve the expansion agreement with BNSF giving the rail company the go ahead to build a four mile long second track on the east side of the city.
Next, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to okay the BNSF permit application.
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) made the following statement after permits to BNSF Railway for their planned rail expansion in the La Crosse River Marsh was issued.
“It's irresponsible to rush forward like this when so much is at stake. The amount of oil being shipped through Wisconsin is skyrocketing, along with the risk of derailments and spills that could endanger our natural resources and local neighborhoods. Considering the train derailment outside of Dubuque, Iowa last week that resulted in an unknown amount of ethanol spilling into the Mississippi River, it is clear that the need for proper environmental review of this planned track expansion is critical to protecting our wetlands and communities," said Rep. Kind.
Rep. Kind added, “We don't know how this expansion will affect wildlife, flood drainage, and navigation in the La Crosse River Marsh and Mississippi River wetlands. When making a decision that's this important, it's just Wisconsin common sense that you take your time and consult with experts to learn all the facts."
Last month, Rep. Kind and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent letters to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be conducted ahead of the BNSF Railway's planned track expansion through the City of La Crosse and along the La Crosse River Marsh.