Dec 15, 2014 6:12 PM by News Staff
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A federal agency that has jurisdiction over California's bullet train says it has the authority to pre-empt state environmental law, creating uncertainty for numerous lawsuits fighting the project.
In a decision made public Monday, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board ruled that lawsuits challenging the high-speed rail line under the California Environmental Quality Act have the potential to impinge on its "exclusive jurisdiction over rail transportation."
The three-member board was acting on a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which was seeking to clarify federal jurisdiction over the project. The authority faces seven lawsuits that use the state environmental law to challenge the bullet train plans.
The ruling, issued late Friday, conflicts with a previous decision by a California appeals court. Opponents say it is likely to lead to additional litigation.
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