Gov. Brown plans to ask the legislature to exempt High Speed Rail from parts of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Among other things, the governor wants to disable a court’s ability to apply an injunction if the rail project is challenged.
Here’s a link to a San Jose Mercury story about the proposal: http://www.mercurynews.com/california-high-speed-rail/ci_20761210/gov-jerry-brown-plans-fast-track-high-speed?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com. In the coming days, there will likely be much more press about this issue.
Sierra Club California continues to support High Speed Rail as an important component in California’s transportation system. Environmental review, however, is essential to ensure that such a large public-works project does not significantly harm the environment and public health or run roughshod over environmental-justice communities. The current $68 billion High Speed Rail program, including the rail to be constructed between Merced and Fresno with help from more than $3 billion in federal Recovery Act funds, is exactly the sort of large-scale public works project that CEQA was designed to address.
It is astounding that the governor and his appointees to the High Speed Rail Authority Board are resorting to weakening environmental review. Done right, High Speed Rail does not require CEQA exemptions.
Kathryn Phillips, director, Sierra Club California