Update (June 25, 2012): On June 22 the Sacramento Bee reported that Gov. Brown has confirmed that he’ll be back with a CEQA-weakening proposal for rail.
The Brown administration has decided to abandon for now its proposed trailer bill to weaken California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) provisions for the High Speed Rail project (see previous article and Sierra Club letter).
This is a victory for the environmental community and Sierra Club California particularly, since we led the charge on pushing back on the CEQA weakening. This does not mean that the administration won't look for other relief later (and we've heard rumors of such already), but at least it won't be through a trailer bill that doesn't get full public review and debate. The Sierra Club's position remains that a public-works project as large as this must go through full CEQA review.
The administration has also asked for our support on the budget trailers that will appropriate the bond funds to match the federal grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for construction of the first length of the rail from Merced to Fresno. Sierra Club California's policy has been to support High Speed Rail, generally and we supported Prop 1A to provide funds for HSR construction. We will support appropriating the bond funds.
Kathryn Phillips, director, Sierra Club California