By The Associated Press
2:13 PM AKDT, October 2, 2012
A federal appeals court has halted work on a railroad extension project in south-central Alaska, pending a full hearing on the case.
The decision is a win for conservationists, who argued that they - and the natural environment - would suffer irreparable harm without a stay on construction of the Port MacKenzie rail extension.
A divided three-judge panel found there is a "serious question" as to whether the U.S. Surface Transportation Board complied with a federal environmental law in determining the purpose and need of the extension.
The dissent, written by 9th Circuit Court Judge Carlos Bea, said the petitioners had failed, in his opinion, to exhaust their request for a stay with the board.
A spokesman for the board says it has seen the order but has no comment.