Below are a series of emails received from Bill Breitsprecher regarding Great Lakes Basis Railroad and its lack of any formal application to the Surface Transportation Board. Mr.Breitsprecher, an opponent of the GLB RR, also speaks of Bakken Oil being the real rationale for the GLB RR. For your convenience some of the email is highlighted.
Today, I was informed that Victoria Rutson is on some type of leave. I
also just got off the phone with Michael Higgens and I believe he is
inappropriately telling me that I have no right to contact the different
sections at STB. While he said it was "as a courtesy", this sounds like
bullying to me.
Phillis Johnson Ball is the person under Victoria Rutson that needs to
hear from us. Ms. Johnson Ball, however, is making misrepresentations and
will only tell you to submit comments for the Phase 1 approval, even when
you need to learn more about this process to make informed comments.
I have given her the benefit of the doubt in previous encounters, but she
no longer deserves this courtesy and consideration.
While I hope others continue to submit comments, the problem is that if we
let STB misrepresent that our only right is to submit comments before June
15, 2016, we are helping them legitimize an illegitimate process.
Specifically here are some concerns about misrepresentations that Victoria
Rutson and her surrogates at STB cannot be allowed to get away with:
1. Victoria Rutson's letter (attached) dated September 22, 2016, clearly,
directly, and specifically states in its first sentence [... a 6-month
notification of intent and prodect details is] generally required for
construction projects under 49 C.F.R. § 1105.10(a)(1).
2. Two days ago, Ms. Johnson Ball directly stated to me that the waiver,
which Victoria Rutson has now admitted was not appropriate, was routinely
and typically granted. This directly contradicts the very first sentence
in Rutson's letter granting a waiver.
3. Today, Phillis Johnson Ball would not even admit that Phase 1
environmental review has anything to do with an "approval process". We
have all been told exactly the opposite, that this is the first "hurdle"
that must be cleared to gain approval. Sorry, I have to use the "L" word
here -- Johnson Ball knows it is a lie to proclaim Phase 1 is not part of
the approval process.
4. More important, Surface Transportation Board has never had a project
like this before it, yet Ms. Johnson Ball and others at STB misrepresent
that Frank Patton's nearly 300 mile railroad which claims will hijack 25%
of the through freight from each and every railroad serving Chicago is
somehow "typical". Nothing could be further from the truth. Dishonestly,
Johnson Ball falsely claims the only difference between GLBT and every
other project submitted in STB history is that GLBT is "controversial".
5. Any and all "controversy" related to GLBT is a direct result of
Victoria Rutson's waiver Patton and GLBT out of (in her own words) "[... a
6-month notification] generally required for construction projects under
49 C.F.R. § 1105.10(a)(1)." All "controversy" is because Frank Patton
refuses to file an application for GLBT and this must be because he cannot
or will not certify the information provided to STB as true under penalty
6. Any and all "controversy" about GLBT is a direct result of Frank
Patton refusing to submit a formal application and certify everything on
the docket as truthful under penalty of law.
7. Frank Patton has misrepresented far too many details to enumerate
here. I know you are informed about these. Despite what we now know to
be outright lies that he had "nondisclosure agreements" with the carriers
that would divert 25% of Chicago through-freight, Patton has initiated
Phase 1 review, the first step in the approval process, and today Phillis
Johnson Ball misrepresented that Phase 1 review has anything to do with
7. Even though the September 22, 2015 letter from Victoria Rutson
explicitly states that as a direct result of a September 14, 2015 meeting,
"[...STB] believes it has adequate information to grant this request
[waiver of generally required notification under 49 C.F.R. §
1105.10(a)(1). and that GLB is sufficiently aware of OEA’s environmental
process" no one at STB will release any documentation nor make any
statements, representations, or provide details about that meeting.
We are being boxed into a classic "Catch-22":
Surface Transportation Board will not allow anyone to get information
about the approval process which increasing appears to be rigged to
exclude any and all meaningful comments. STB says our only right is to
submit comments to their illegitimate "Phase 1" process which, for the
first time today, Ms. Johnson Ball repeatedly misrepresented as being
irrelevant to approval!
I need others to file comments about these concerns. I know from
experience that STB has an internal process to marginalize and exclude any
individual that brings legitimate points to the docket that are
irrefutable. Please call me if you want to know more.
I can no longer enable the sham STB is perpetrating on us by submitting
comments that are not allowed to be discussed and which STB constantly
shifts their position on. Please encourage others to submit comments and
please continue submitting what you choose.
However, please also keep in mind that, when this charade ends, STB and
GLBT will proclaim that we had our chance to "comment" and that now we
have no right to question the abuse of the approval process. Sadly, our
comments may only serve to provide false credibility to a corrupt system.
I have spend hours talking to different people at STB in Washington D.C.
and urge you to also make phone calls and demand STB explain their
process, why Frank Patton was waived out of a 6-month notification period,
and how a proposal with no specifics or even stated land-uses warrants an
environmental statement. A "key contacts" listing for STB is attached.
Please look at page 50 in the link below -- an actual application to STB
for a rail project from April 2016. Please note that, when submitted, the
applicant is required to certify under penalty of perjury that:
1. All details and statements in the application are honest, accurate,
2. The person submitting is qualified to make these representation
Frank has refused to submit an application, which should not surprise
anyone as he constantly changes the GLBT narrative. Is it privately or
publicly funded. Will there be "quiet zones" or not? Does he have
"nondisclosure agreements" with any railroad? Where is he going to get
25% of Chicago freight from? Who are the silent partners/backers? Are
oil interests involved? Are other railroads involved?
We need to demand that the approval process is stopped until Frank Patton
submits an application and certifies the representations he is making.
Garbage in, garbage out. It is a travesty that the process has begun with
no details from GLBT "managing partner" Frank Patton on the docket.
Bakken crude is the most dangerous commodity on the rails and GLBT is designe...
Bakken crude is the most dangerous commodity on the rails and GLBT is
designed to put this and other hazardous materials through rural
communities, bypassing Chicago. You have all seen reports of this
weekend's UP Derailment and Bakken crude disaster.
Media reports have been wrong, 14 Bakken crude tank cars derailed. Even
worse, Union Pacific Railroad has admitted there is no way to put out
fires and minimize damage -- "[...] the recommended approach is to
evacuate and let the tanks just burn out."
This is why the current STB Phase 1 approvals are a charade. They gave
GLBT's Frank Patton (now identified as a "managing partner" by media
reports and not the CEO) a free pass on all details of his railroad's
operations and land-use. There cannot be a legitimate environmental study
without these details.
We can now see that the as-of-yet officially unstated need and rational
for GLBT is to get the most dangerous traffic on rails out of America's
most-densely populated urban corridors.
All parties involved know that would be impossible to fully-evacuate a 1
mile corridor (1/2 mile each way) and simply let a Chicago Metro rail-bomb
burn out. The costs would also exceed any railroad or insurance company's
ability to pay.
Please not take representations by Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern that
they will not ship anything on GLBT at face value. This traffic can and
will be diverted around Chicago as no railroad nor shipper can financially
justify the risks of running this volatile and explosive commodity through
Please continue to submit comments to Surface Transportation Board,
including the fact that Mosier Fire Chief Calls Shipping Bakken Crude Oil
By Rail 'Insane:
But we cannot be silenced when STB arbitrary, unjust, and unfair "comment
period" expires on June 15th. I hope we can build a group of citizens to
continue to provide leadership to challenge the way Phase 1 approval is
being abused by Frank Patton.
I believe it will be important to put together a follow-up of our Great
Lakes Basin Rail: News and Views to keep people connected and informed.
We need to share strategies and actions to challenge the Phase 1 approval
after June 15th.
MILTON—Milton has joined the growing number of Rock County municipalities that oppose a proposed rail line that would stretch from Milton to Indiana, running south around Chicago.
Milton City Council members Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution opposing the Great Lakes Basin Rail Line project, which would cut through hundreds of acres of land, most of it farmland, in Rock County alone.
Most of the county's 20 towns have passed resolutions opposing the rail line.
“It is a serious issue,” Mayor Anissa Welch said. “It affects a lot of farmland. It affects a lot of our families that live nearby us.”
At best, city council members expressed neutrality on the railroad concept.
Whether it's highways packed with trucks, the sky filled with planes or a rail line that cuts across the Midwest, products need some way to get from place to place, councilwoman Lynda Clark said.
“Commerce needs transportation, and I'm not saying I'm for this or I'm opposed to this, but it is something we the people have to think about,” she said.
Another railroad could harm the Milton House, a nationally recognized historic site, she said.
Councilman Ryan Holbrook also was on the fence on the issue. He pointed out the benefits a rail line could offer businesses and different markets, but he acknowledged the rail line wouldn't do much—if any—good for Milton.
The railroad could significantly decrease the time it takes trains to reach the East Coast. It would cost $6 billion to $8 billion and would be funded by private investors.
Councilwoman Nancy Lader wondered why the rail line would end up in developer Bill Watson's “driveway.”
“I find that very uncomfortable,” she said.
Residents have expressed concerns that Watson, who owns plenty of land near Milton, might develop gravel pits if he had a convenient way to transport the gravel.
Council members agreed there were plenty of unanswered questions and a short window of time to get them answered. The federal Surface Transportation Board is taking comments to determine municipalities' views on the rail line, but only until mid-June.
Councilman Dave Adams asked if the rail line would increase the amount of hazardous materials traveling through Milton.
It could, Fire Chief Loren Lippincott said, but he doesn't know what would be transported. Other fire departments in Illinois and Indiana have the same concerns.
“There's never been any formal plan presented to anybody in Wisconsin,” Lippincott said.
Milton already has a railroad, and no rail line official has presented a study about why another railroad is necessary, Welch said.
“I wanted Milton to have an opportunity to weigh in on this because … it could have a major impact,” she said. “There's too many questions, in my mind.”
Chicago 06/07/2016, 01:55pm
Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar speaks Tuesday during a luncheon hosted by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform at the Standard Club of Chicago. | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times
Former Gov. Jim Edgar — one of the state’s most popular Republican governors — said Tuesday that Illinois is in its worst shape in 50 years, and warned that Gov. Bruce Rauner must tone down his “rhetoric” and abandon his “Turnaround Agenda” to get a complete budget done.
“There’s nothing worse than an old governor telling a new governor what to do,” Edgar joked at the Standard Club in Chicago after offering Rauner a couple of lessons on governing.
During a Governor’s Day celebration at the Illinois State Fair last year, the governor celebrated the state electing its first Republican governor in 12 years: “They created a mess from one party rule, from King Madigan and the Chicago political machine,” Rauner said.
But at the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform luncheon Tuesday, Edgar spoke of the need for civility, compromise and compassion in today’s hostile state government. And he stressed that the governor’s No. 1 goal should be managing the state via a budget.
“What I had to learn is that I had my point of view. They had their point of view. And I should treat them with civility. Just because they didn’t agree with me, didn’t mean they were ignorant, didn’t mean they were a crook. It just meant we disagreed,” Edgar said. “And it’s critical that in the public arena that we treat our adversaries with civility because one of the things I also learned [is] today’s adversary is tomorrow’s ally, because issues change. But if you just call someone stupid or a crook, it’s going to be a little harder the next day when you need them as allies, to get them as allies.”
Edgar said budgets were accomplished in the ‘90s, despite many hardships, “because we compromised.” He called negotiations with Madigan during his tenure as governor during a budget impasse tense, but civil in the end because “we both tried to watch our rhetoric.”
“We might have thought about the other guy, but we didn’t go out and say it,” Edgar said.
Edgar, who served two terms as governor after a stint as secretary of state, has been critical of Rauner before. He has taken issue with his fellow Republican’s governing style in media interviews, but Tuesday’s speech was perhaps his most detailed critique.
“You can’t get things done if you’re not willing to meet your adversary halfway, and again we’ve gotten away from that,” Edgar said, noting the state must try something different.
“It’s obvious what we’ve done the last year hasn’t worked,” Edgar said.
Edgar noted Madigan ate lunch with him every day during their impasses — joking Madigan only ate an apple — until they came up with an agreement about a temporary tax increase.
Edgar suggested Rauner do the same with the Democratic leaders, to end a budget impasse that is hurting the state. And he pointed the finger at Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” for slowing down a much-needed budget.
“I do think the Turnaround Agenda part is the biggest obstacle they have to deal with,” Edgar said, noting he still speaks to Madigan, and has spoken to Rauner within the past year.
He also criticized Rauner’s push for term limits, saying the governor is pushing the reform to target Madigan.
“I’m not big on term limits. … I don’t think we need term limits. Let’s face it. This whole discussion about term limits is not about the members. It’s about the Speaker and that doesn’t solve it,” Edgar said. “Term limits, if you pass that amendment, Mike Madigan can still be speaker for 10 years. I know Mike Madigan. He’ll do that just to spite everyone.”
Also on Tuesday, Madigan aide Tim Mapes announced to legislators that a scheduled Illinois House session on Wednesday had been canceled, citing continued talks with the working groups, Republican leaders and the governor’s office.
“The Speaker is hopeful that progress will continue, as it has over the past few weeks. Given this progress and the need for these discussions among the working groups on the budget and other issues to continue without interruption, the House will not be in session on Wednesday, June 8,” Mapes wrote in a memo.
Rauner spent some of his Tuesday in Bloomington, where he continued to push for a Republican-sponsored education bill to ensure schools open this fall, while also accusing Democrats of “slow-rolling” the budget process to create a schools crisis.
“They want a crisis in the government to leverage a Chicago bailout and leverage a big tax hike without any reforms,” Rauner said.”
And the governor defended his highly controversial description of some CPS schools as “crumbling prisons.”
“In too many of them, I cry. Tears come into my eyes. No student, no child of Illinois should have to go to school in some of those facilities. They have metal on the windows. They’re dark. They’re depressing. They’re crumbling,” Rauner said, further likening the schools to prisons. “They have metal detectors at every door and they have police officers and security officers everywhere. Our children deserve better than