Nine CARS members sue Wisconsin DNR over BNSF rail expansion permit in La Crosse

La Crosse, WI – On Monday March 9, nine citizens concerned with the proposed expansion of rail lines carrying crude oil through the Upper Mississippi River Basin filed a legal challenge to the Wisconsin DNR’s decision to issue a wetland fill and bridge permit to BNSF Railway. The citizens say the DNR’s environmental analysis of the project didn’t comply with the law. They are asking the court to reverse the DNR’s decision to grant the permit and require the agency to prepare an environmental analysis that complies with the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act.

Numerous residents of La Crosse and the surrounding area raised concerns about indirect and cumulative impacts of the project including:

  • the risk of environmental harm and threat to public safety from a train derailment carrying hazardous materials such as crude oil,
  • a Bald Eagle nest within 600 feet of the railroad tracks,
  • disturbance to neighbors from increased noise, vibration and pollution from more and more frequent trains passing through,
  • yet another wetland fill in the La Crosse River Marsh that has already been reduced to half its size from previous developments, and
  • impacts from construction and operation of the second track on the Mississippi River which is near to and downstream from the La Crosse River Marsh.

The DNR failed to consider these impacts in its decision.


Citizens who write or call officials make a difference! 

News Links:
Group files challenge to La Crosse rail expansion process
La Crosse area residents sue to block BNSF expansion
Local contest BNSF permit approval
La Crosse Residents File Suit Over BNSF Permit
Citizens concerned with DNR process to permit rail expansion file legal challenge

CARS, Citizens for Rail Safety – La Crosse is a group of Wisconsin and Minnesota residents working with citizens and public officials toward rail safety and a national energy policy that respects the health, safety, and quality of life of people, wildlife, and the environment.

For timely news on rail safety: DOT-111 READER  
Call to action video:  BNSF Rail Expansion La Crosse River Marsh Video
Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) is a non-profit law center in Madison WI that helps citizens protect air, water, and land for this generation and the next .  We have been very grateful for their assistance and encourage anyone with the means to make a donation – large or small – to help them as they help us! Check out and/or contribute to Midwest Environmental Advocates here
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La Crosse area residents sue to block BNSF expansion


March 10, 2015 | La Crosse Tribune|

A group of concerned citizens is challenging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ decision to allow BNSF Railroad to build a second set of tracks through the La Crosse River marsh.

With help from the nonprofit Midwest Environmental Advocates, members of the group Citizens Acting for Rail Safety filed a petition for judicial review in La Crosse County Circuit Court asking a judge to block a wetland permit and to require the DNR to complete a more thorough environmental review of the project.

[Read the entire article here.]

Group files challenge to La Crosse rail expansion process

WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |


March 9, 2015 | WXOW|A group of nine people are challenging the permitting process of the Wisconsin DNR regarding the expansion of the railroad in part of La Crosse.

The Department of Natural Resources granted a permit to allow the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to add a second line through the La Crosse River marsh. The second line would run roughly from Gillette Street near Logan High School on the north side of La Crosse down through the marsh to Farnam Street near Central High School on the city’s south side.

[Read the entire article here.]