A $100 billion boondoggle that's supposed to protect the environment needing environmental waivers to get built?
The Brown administration is preparing a proposal to limit environmental challenges to California's high-speed rail project, heightening legal standards under which a court could block construction.
The proposal could shield the $68 billion project from court-ordered injunctions that might otherwise be issued under the California Environmental Quality Act. Except in the most serious environmental cases, the proposed legislation would let construction proceed while the California High-Speed Rail Authority fixes any environmental flaws identified by a judge.
The proposal is likely to be considered by the Legislature this month or next. Environmentalists expected to be briefed by administration officials on the plan next week.
Dan Richard, chairman of the rail authority board, said the proposal consists of "pretty small, pretty technical" changes. It would allow a judge to block construction in major cases - if opponents showed, for example, that an endangered species was threatened with extinction, he said.
The proposal is almost certain to be opposed by environmentalists.
"I don't imagine that we're going to see something next week that will make us want to embrace these exemptions that they're going to be proposing," said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California.
Phillips said the rail authority's concern about environmental challenges slowing the project is misplaced.
"Environmental review is not going to slow this project," she said. "What's going to slow this project is ineptitude by the high-speed rail authority, and that's what we have seen, at least in the last four years."
In addition to raising standards for blocking construction, the proposal would make it easier for the administration to modify parts of the project without re-doing its overall environmental review.
Since the feds are only going to chip in around $4 billion, the state still has no clue where the rest of the cash to get this monstrosity built is going to come from.
Waiving environmental procedures won't save much money and only reveals the utter hypocrisy of Jerry Brown and his liberal cohorts. The same regs that businesses in California have been punished by for years will be waived because Brown wants his pet project to move forward.
Some things are apparently more important than saving the cuttlefish...