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Page updated Nov 7, 2008 4:28 PM

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 7, 2008    

Federal Surface Transportation Board Responds to City Petition Regarding Ethanol Transloading Facility

In June, the City of Alexandria filed a petition seeking a Declaratory Order from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) determining that federal law does not preempt Alexandria’s zoning authority over the Norfolk Southern Railroad’s Ethanol Transloading Facility, located in the City’s West End. The City’s petition also asked the STB to allow discovery (the pretrial disclosure of pertinent facts or documents by one or both parties to a legal action or proceeding) against the railroad to further develop the facts of the case.

On November 5, the STB granted the City's request, instituting a proceeding to determine whether the operation of an ethanol transloading facility within the City of Alexandria, Virginia, constitutes transportation by rail carrier and, therefore, is covered by the federal preemption of local zoning authority. In the decision, the STB found that "the factual issues presented here warrant consideration by the Board because they raise a genuine question whether the scope of federal preemption encompasses the activities occurring at the Facility." The decision also directs Norfolk Southern to respond to four questions seeking additional facts in order to provide a more complete record before the STB. Norfolk Southern's responses to the questions are due on November 26, and the City will have until December 8 to reply to this additional information.

The STB decision, although preliminary, represents a successful outcome for the City. For more information about the Norfolk Southern Ethanol Transloading Facility, or to view a copy of the STB decision, visit