June 13, 2012, by
Earlier in June, Governor Brown’s office proposed new legislation that would restrict the ability of opponents to California’s $69 billion high-speed rail project to stop the project through CEQA litigation, in addition to other CEQA changes. The proposal would require the courts to consider additional employment and economic factors in weighing whether to grant an injunction halting construction of the project. Absent a finding that the value of the Project’s potential environmental damage would exceed the potential loss of more than $2 billion in federal funds secured for the project, judges would be prohibited from enjoining construction. The proposal would also ease other CEQA rules for the project. Several groups and municipalities have already filed suit in the Central Valley challenging the Project (some to stop the project, others to realign the project into their city). Currently, the proposal is included in a trailer bill which has yet to be included in the Governor’s draft budget, but has been circulated among environmental groups and others. Not surprisingly, these environmental groups have expressed vehement opposition to the proposal. Its fate remains to be seen.