Fresno-Bakersfield FEIR Challenges

Fresno-Bakersfield FEIR Challenges

The Fresno-Bakersfield HSR plan bears interesting resemblances to an earlier Fresno Rail Relocation Plan.

The following comment letters, filed prior to the adoption of the Final EIR, may be of interest:
The BNSF Comment letter
The TRANSDEF Comment letter

The following petitions were filed challenging the certification of the FEIR:
Kings County
Kern County
City of Bakersfield
Dignity Health
Coffee-Brimhall LLC
First Free Will Baptist Church of Bakersfield

Federal Preemption
On October 9, 2014, the California High-Speed Rail Authority filed a petition with the federal Surface Transportation Board for a declaratory order that would prevent any California court hearing the Fresno-Bakersfield EIR challenge from issuing an injunction to stop the construction of the project. CHSRA wants to hide behind federal preemption. STB went far beyond the Authority’s request, and issued a ruling that CEQA was entirely preempted on projects subject to STB jurisdiction.

In an earlier move seeking to protect its claim to federal preemption of environmental laws, CHSRA asked the Supreme Court to depublish the appellate decision in Town of Atherton II, which was denied. See bottom of this page.

Cases were on Hold
These CEQA EIR challenges were stayed (on hold) until a final decision was reached by the California Supreme Court in its review of two conflicting appellate decisions on the federal preemption of CEQA, Atherton and Friends of the Eel River. Atherton parties filed an amicus brief in the latter case. Curiously, the Attorney General filed separate amicus briefs for CHSRA and the State environmental agencies, making different points. The cases are now progressing, after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Friends of the Eel River.

A request to the STB for a rehearing was not successful. This then led to the filing of an appeal in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which was dismissed after the STB belatedly admitted that its Declaratory Order was not a final action.

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