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>From the Surface Transportation Board, Washington, D.C.

The Surface Transportation Board today announced that it will hold a public
field hearing on December 4, 2008, in Las Vegas, Nevada, to hear public
testimony relative to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) application for
authority to build the proposed “Caliente Line,” a 300-mile rail line that
would connect an existing rail line near Caliente, NV, to a proposed
geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nye County, NV.  DOE proposes to use
the new line initially to transport materials needed to construct the
repository, and, eventually, to transport spent nuclear fuel and high-level
radioactive waste for disposal at the completed repository.  DOE also has
requested approval to operate the line as a “common carrier,” which, if
approved, would require that the line be accessible to other shippers
engaged in interstate transportation.

 On Thursday, December 4 the public hearing will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the
 Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Las Vegas Hearing Facility-Pacific
 Enterprise Plaza, Building 1, 3250 Pepper Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89120.  Any
 person wishing to speak at the hearing in United States Department of
 Energy—Rail Construction and Operation—Caliente Rail Line in Lincoln, Nye,
 and Esmeralda Counties, NV, STB Finance Docket No. 35106, must file with
 the Board no later than November 14, 2008, a written notice of intent to
 participate identifying the party represented, the proposed speaker, and
 the minutes of speaking time requested.  Notices should be sent to:

 ATTN:  FD 35106

 Anne Quinlan, Acting Secretary
 Surface Transportation Board
 395 E Street, S.W.
 Washington, DC 20423-0001

 Notices may also be filed electronically via the Board’s Web site, at
 http://www.stb.dot.gov, by clicking the “E-FILING” button on the home page
 then, when the “Welcome” page appears, by clicking the “Public Hearings
 and Oral Arguments:  Notices of Intent to Participate” link at the
 bottom-right of the page.  Basic name and address information is next
 requested, as well as an electronic “PDF” file of written and signed
 letters of intent.  To fill in the final, “Attach Letter of Intent*” box,
 filers need only click the “Browse…” button and select the name of their
 electronic PDF file from among the file names that will be displayed.

 Following the Board’s receipt of notices of intent, a schedule of speakers
 will be issued for the hearing.  Speakers are not required to, but may
 bring written copies of their testimony to the hearing.  In the event the
 Board receives more requests to participate than can reasonably be
 accommodated in a one-day hearing, the agency will give priority to
 elected officials and current parties of record (official participants) in
 the construction-application proceeding.

 Construction of a new rail line for rail common carriage service on the
 interstate rail network requires Board approval.  Under the law, 49 U.S.C.
 10901(c), the agency will approve proposals to construct rail lines unless
 it finds that doing so would be inconsistent with the “public convenience
 and necessity.”  This is a broad public-interest standard under which the
 Board considers such matters as safety and environmental concerns; the
 public demand or need for the proposed service; the applicant’s financial
 fitness; and whether the proposed service is in the public interest and
 would not unduly harm existing service.  Modifications or conditions may
 be placed on approval of any proposal by the Board at its discretion.

 The Board is a decisionally independent federal regulatory agency with
 bipartisan members serving staggered five-year terms.  This hearing is
 part of an extensive outreach and public comment process aimed at ensuring
 that the agency is fully informed and able to consider this application in
 an open, transparent manner.  Board staff has already conducted 18 scoping
 meetings and public hearings in the environmental-review process, during
 which agency procedures were presented and explained in great detail to
 interested parties.  Last August, Board staff also held a workshop with
 representatives from the State of Nevada and the Board of the County
 Commissioners, in Las Vegas, to explain the line-construction process and
 the agency’s regulatory procedures.

 The Board’s decision announcing the public hearing and requiring the
 filing of written notice by those wishing to speak was issued today,
 October 31, 2008, in STB Finance Docket No. 35106(
 .  That decision is available for viewing and downloading on the Board’s
 Web site at http://www.stb.dot.gov, under “E-Library,” then under
 “Decisions & Notices,” beneath the date “10/31/08.”

 The hearing will not be webcast via the Board’s Web site because of
 technical factors at the hearing site.  However, the hearing will be
 recorded, archived, and at a later date made accessible via the home page
 of the agency’s Web site, at http://www.stb.dot.gov, under “Information
 Center/Past Meetings.”

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