Legal victories for the people seeking to protect taxpayers, landowners, and the environment from the ravages of High Cost Rail are few and far between. Even when won, they are sometimes undercut or slyly ignored. So last week's ruling was a breath of fresh air. The L.A. Times notes
U.S. law does not allow state-owned rail projects to completely bypass California’s strict environmental regulations, the state Supreme Court said Thursday in a decision that ensures further legal complications for the planned $64-billion bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“It basically says that California has a right to control its own railroads and decide whether they should be required to consider carefully the environmental impacts of their projects,” said Stuart Flashman, who represents several San Francisco Bay Area cities in a lawsuit that contends the bullet train project violates state environmental law.
Other sources provided this layman's version of the ruling
In a nutshell, the court ruled that Congress could interfere with a state's operation of its own business property only when it was "unmistakably clear" that it intended to do so. That showing had not been made to the court's satisfaction, so in such cases CEQA was not categorically preempted by the federal statute providing for the regulations of railroads in interstate commerce.
Here's hoping for some real environmental protection!