California Supreme Court issues ruling in closely watched North Coast rail case 

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that publicly owned railroads are not exempt from the state’s bedrock environmental law, a decision hailed by environmental watchdogs on the North Coast and opponents of California’s high-speed rail project.

Scott Greacen, executive director of Friends of the Eel River, called the court ruling “vindication.”

The Arcata-based group sued the North Coast Railroad Authority in a bid to force the state-chartered agency to study the environmental impacts of running freight along a 316-mile rail line that traverses Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt counties and runs through the Eel River canyon.

Greacen said as a result of the Supreme Court decision, NCRA won’t be able to rebuild the line through the canyon “without taking a hard look at the environmental impacts, which has been the goal all along.”

More broadly, the court ruling could have major implications for the state’s high-speed rail project. Several court cases are pending in state courts seeking to hold the California High-Speed Rail Authority accountable for construction and operation of the service.

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