Conflicting appellate court decisions create uncertainty regarding environmental assessments required of High Speed Rail and other publicly owned railroads
The state’s highest court on Wednesday agreed to review an appeal of a lower court’s decision that would exempt publicly owned railroads from having to comply with California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
An appellate court had found that the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act pre-empted all state laws managing or governing railroads, including CEQA. The case decision—brought by Friends of the Eel River (FOER) and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CATs)—concerns California’s state-owned railroad, the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA), which meant California would be forbidden to control the railroad it had bought and paid for with public funds.
A different court of appeals reached the opposite conclusion in a case involving California’s High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA). That court found that where the state is acting as an owner, not a regulator, federal preemption does not shield the state-owned rail line from having to comply with CEQA as a condition of its state funding. (more)
Previous news: CEQA Key to Holding NCRA Accountable
The Carson-Iceberg Wilderness is threatened by a plan to poison Silver King Creek, located just 23 miles as the eagle flies from South Lake Tahoe in spectacular Sierra Nevada high country. This wilderness encompasses wide river valleys, the headwaters of several rivers, and thick forests.
A warning by Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and the Center for Biological Diversity of the groups’ plan to sue the EPA for failure to update rules on air emissions required by the Clean Air Act has spurred the agency into action.
Despite the successful campaign by residents of rural Humboldt County to convince PG&E to stop spraying herbicides around power poles, the giant utility still is drenching about a million of the poles with a variety of chemicals elsewhere in its service area.
Despite being trounced by CATs in the Court of Appeal for a similar project, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) is trying to slip another herbicide spray plan past the public — this time at Tolowa State Park, pictured at right.
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