CA governor wants environmental waivers for high-speed rail project

posted at 6:31 pm on June 2, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Remind me, again, of the point of spending $100 billion on a train between San Francisco and Los Angeles that would carry passengers in times that far exceed what an airplane trip takes.  It can’t be to save money; California could build at least a dozen new international airports with that cash. The purpose was to save the environment by eliminating the carbon footprint of the airplanes and cars that currently provide transportation between California’s two largest population centers, as well as to eliminate the need for more of that dirty oil exploration and refining activity that fuels those vehicles.  The high-speed rail would get its energy from a clean source (Arizona?), and protect the environment to boot.

That must explain why the project needs waivers from the same kind of environmental laws that have hamstrung California businesses for decades:

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.

Say, I have an idea.  Why not just change the laws so that anyone who wants to build, open, or operate a business can do so, allowing judges to stop it only when “the most serious environmental cases” arise?  We can then let farmer farm, investors open new businesses, and energy producers generate the electricity and fuel California needs to power its economy — and that big choo-choo they’re building astride the San Andreas Fault, too.  Best of all, that would mean the rule of law would prevail and apply equally to everyone, from Sacramento all the way down to California’s subjects, er, citizens.

Of course, I’m just being silly.  America wasn’t founded to apply the rule of law equally to everyone!  It exists to give elected officials like Jerry Brown the power to build massively expensive 19th-century transportation solutions during a chronic debt crisis at the state and national level, while breaking the same laws he wants to enforce against everyone else.  Some animals truly are more equal than others on the farm.


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The purpose of high speed rail, and light rail for that matter is singular… to spend money and lots of it. That is what government does.

Dasher on June 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM

Why build this train? We can take the car when we leave California.

pat on June 2, 2012 at 6:37 PM

I struggle to find the words that describe the absolute mess that is California. It’s so screwed up on so many levels it boggles the mind.

HotAirian on June 2, 2012 at 6:38 PM

They never play by their own rules.

Karmashock on June 2, 2012 at 6:39 PM

Would the rail line be “historical”? That’s all that really matters to this taxpayer.

stout77 on June 2, 2012 at 6:39 PM

$100 BILLION?

umm, call me kooky, but for half of that, California can just bail itself out of debt, period.

Do that and start with a clean ledger. Show the taxpayer exactly what kind of asshat programs you Sacramento Clowns are spending money on.

I’d guarantee that state would turn Red from end to end inside of a year.

Cripes. Why worry about the Chinese invading…? We’re handing ourselves to them wrapped in a bow.

BlaxPac on June 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

…you mean they may want to kill some kind of minnow or a moth off and they want to avoid getting permission from nanny?…oh no no no no no!

KOOLAID2 on June 2, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Ed, it’s past your bedtime. Where’s that weirdbeard, Allahpundit?

Lanceman on June 2, 2012 at 6:43 PM

The high speed rail in California is ridiculous and dangerous on the face of it. The problems and wrecks that AMTRACK has had there are enormous, as is the failure to maintain adequate safety management and oversight of mechanical maintenance of trains and tracks.

California is subject not only to earthquake which move rails enough to cause ‘accidents’ ( I think the case could be made that accidents that are foreseeable and avoidable would be better classed as NEGLIGENCE) but mudslides. rock avalanches, and brush fires as well which could also cause accidents even on a normal train, much less the delicate balance required for operating high speed rail safely.

thatsafactjack on June 2, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Say, I have an idea. Why not just change the laws so that anyone who wants to build, open, or operate a business can do so,

Wow what a radical concept! /sarc

Moonbeam is out of his mind.

dogsoldier on June 2, 2012 at 6:45 PM

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 9th Circut? They would let them leave dead babies on the crossrails!

KOOLAID2 on June 2, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Color me surprised.

not.

Tim_CA on June 2, 2012 at 6:47 PM

What’s in the water out there? Maybe those radioactive tuna will be final straw.

SouthernGent on June 2, 2012 at 6:48 PM

How about stopping with all this expensive nonsense?

Bmore on June 2, 2012 at 6:50 PM

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.

Isn’t that a very lax standard? Typically, projects are shut down if even a single plant or animal or lichen that is endangered is threatened. Suddenly it’s only a threat if they might all be wiped out?

Turn the water back on!

slickwillie2001 on June 2, 2012 at 6:50 PM

What’s in the water out there? Maybe those radioactive tuna will be final straw.

SouthernGent on June 2, 2012 at 6:48 PM

You have a problem with glow-in-the-dark sushi?

slickwillie2001 on June 2, 2012 at 6:54 PM

My husband and I are counting the days until we retire and leave CA. Our out of state college age son says he is not returning when he graduates…he will go to another state with better opportunities.

DanvilleMom on June 2, 2012 at 6:57 PM

No. The CA Dems have made their bed. Now they can lie in it.

besser tot als rot on June 2, 2012 at 7:00 PM

The purpose of high speed rail, and light rail for that matter is singular… to spend money and lots of it. That is what government does.

Dasher on June 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM

A good start. The secondary (or is it primary?) purpose is to constrain development, whether it be residential or commercial, to those tiny plots and times of day government wants it.

Steve Eggleston on June 2, 2012 at 7:02 PM

If they ever do build this thing, the minute they push the on button they will outlaw in-state air travel, except for elected officials and high ranking government employees.

pedestrian on June 2, 2012 at 7:02 PM

And by “good start”, that was directed to Dasher, not Governor Moonbeam and his plans.

Steve Eggleston on June 2, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Meanwhile, I’m being forced into buying canvas bags to haul my groceries.

This is turning into the King of all Goatf**ks…

The Ugly American on June 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

CA governor wants environmental waivers for high-speed rail project

Nope. Live by the EnviroNazi diktat; die by the EnviroNazi diktat, dik.

Or, here’s a suggestion:

DON’T BUILD THE $90 BILLION HIGH-SPEED THOMAS THE TANK-ENGINE RAILROAD TO THE NOWHERE ROUNDHOUSE IN THE FIRST PLACE!

You won’t need dem dang dum waivers.

Resist We Much on June 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Even if this project is started, it will never be finished. California as we know it won’t exist by then.

Dack Thrombosis on June 2, 2012 at 7:06 PM

you can leave california, but you are still gonna pay. the purpose is to prop up california

r keller on June 2, 2012 at 7:07 PM

I will LMAO if the “pretty small, pretty technical” changes somehow involve the Delta Smelt.

VastRightWingConspirator on June 2, 2012 at 7:07 PM

How many waivers do solar power plants need? Somebody want to try to explain how blocking sunlight from 1/3 of North America won’t destroy the ecosystem entirely? Or how to make lithium foam in a way that kill people?

Liberal logic: “In order to save the environment, we have to destroy it.”

logis on June 2, 2012 at 7:10 PM

For me but not for thee.

Philly on June 2, 2012 at 7:11 PM

This is, quite literally the funniest thing I have seen all week. Brown now wants an exemption from the environmental legislation that has done so much to harm us. The irony is Linda Ronstadt’s former squeeze championed much of this through the ’60s and ’70s.

Gawd, I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt. I now have visions of Mongo describing how choo-choo go.

BillH on June 2, 2012 at 7:14 PM

The irony is that the railroads made California accessible and today it will be the catalyst of California’s immediate collapse.

ericdijon on June 2, 2012 at 7:21 PM

And if the train would plow through the delta smelt’s only habitat?

Would Gov. Moonbeam and the EPA find it ok to drive this fish to extinction, when they won’t let the farmers have the water to irrigate their crops because it might disturb some 3″ fish that is an essential lynchpin to the world ecosystem?

Oh, right. The farmeowners aren’t unionized. The construction workers are.

Wethal on June 2, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Stunning!..liberal hypocrisy!

As mentioned above..turn the damn water on!

Insanity is California. Glad we left there years ago.

bazil9 on June 2, 2012 at 7:25 PM

Destruction of a wonderful, resource rich, beautiful state.

bazil9 on June 2, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Stunning!..liberal hypocrisy!

bazil9 on June 2, 2012 at 7:25 PM

Those two terms certainly do go well together. This piece of idiocy is just one drop in the everlasting huge bucket of hypocrisy on the Left.

JetBoy on June 2, 2012 at 7:30 PM

It’s how we roll here in Cali.

Unless you’re a union member, a politician (or in good with one), or an illegal alien, the system has no use for you.

….

Oh, until tax time, that is. Assuming you’ve any income to tax.

Hawkins1701 on June 2, 2012 at 7:32 PM

drop in the everlasting huge bucket of hypocrisy on the Left.
JetBoy on June 2, 2012 at 7:30 PM

True that Jet.

You still in Florida man?

bazil9 on June 2, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Maybe something like this is what Moonbeam has is mind.

TQM38a on June 2, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Well said, Diowee.

Sacramento on June 2, 2012 at 7:43 PM

any chance we can give the same waiver that worthless bait fish the Delta Smelt so my water bills in this purple unicorn liberal heaven can go back down under $500 a month???

ONE word: MOONBEAM!

SDarchitect on June 2, 2012 at 7:45 PM

I wonder how big Moonbeam’s annual tax bill is on his “medical” marijuana?

He just has to be smoking something. Has to be.

My fave Jer:

“The conventional viewpoint says we need a jobs program and we need to cut welfare. Just the opposite! We need more welfare and fewer jobs.”

By Jove, I think he’s done it! Of course, “success” — like beauty — is in the eye of the beholder.

Resist We Much on June 2, 2012 at 7:46 PM

Remind me, again, of the point of spending $100 billion on a train between San Francisco and Los Angeles that would carry passengers in times that far exceed what an airplane trips takes.

Where’s the money going and what is the relationship involved?

It’s totally useless so there has to be kickbacks or someone’s brother-in-law/friend/business associate, etc, involved.

kim roy on June 2, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Gov. Moonbeam saw a light in the tunnel!

It was another dipstick stuck down there and his flashlight was going out…

ajacksonian on June 2, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Is this the transcontinental high-speed rail?

The Rogue Tomato on June 2, 2012 at 8:19 PM

Let’s all get high on the high speed-THE TRILLION DOLLAR TRIP-for California Cuckoos.

MaiDee on June 2, 2012 at 8:19 PM

I don’t give a crap. Me and my business, my wife, three of our kids (and two of their businesses), and our four grandchildren will be DRIVING out of this hell-hole next year. We expect the fourth daughter and son-in-law (and his business) to follow us a year or two later. Arizona here we come.

MikeinPRCA on June 2, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Union Thugs: Your Wisconsin Cheddar* Or Your Life!!!

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/06/union-thugs-your-wisconsin-cheddar-or.html

M2RB: AC/DC live

Resist We Much on June 2, 2012 at 8:36 PM

This is why I’m stocked up on ammo, firearms, and food.
When this state goes down it’ll be like the wild-wild-west here again.

In a way, I can’t wait. I should get some horses too :-D

NapaConservative on June 2, 2012 at 8:41 PM

The high-speed rail would get its energy from a clean source (Arizona?), and protect the environment to boot.

Yeah. It’s going to be powered by electricity generated by rainbow-colored, carbon-free Unicorn farts.

Look at the bright side. Moonbeam will preside over the first state that will have to go into bankruptcy. He’ll get the well-deserved LEGACY he so desperately wants.

GarandFan on June 2, 2012 at 8:53 PM

The high-speed rail would get its energy from a clean source (Arizona?), and protect the environment to boot.

Unless it is coming from the Nuke in Palo Verde it isn’t going to be a clean source. Most of the normal power plants in Arizona are Coal Driven.

However they do want to build a novel Solar Thermal plant in one of our deserts maybe that is where they will get all the energy to run their electric trains and cars.

chemman on June 2, 2012 at 9:54 PM

I don’t give a crap. Me and my business, my wife, three of our kids (and two of their businesses), and our four grandchildren will be DRIVING out of this hell-hole next year. We expect the fourth daughter and son-in-law (and his business) to follow us a year or two later. Arizona here we come.

MikeinPRCA on June 2, 2012 at 8:22 PM

We left 6 years ago and never regretted it. Half of our friends have left the state as well…My brother moved back to California 2 years ago, he’s on SSDI, Medicare/Medicaid, gets a housing grant, a phone grant, an electricity grant, and some food stamps. I’m sure he’ll miss you when you leave.

kringeesmom on June 2, 2012 at 9:55 PM

Meanwhile, I’m being forced into buying canvas bags to haul my groceries.

The Ugly American on June 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I know you have to provide your own bags, but what would be keeping you from ordering some plastic bags from someplace like uline.com (or others) and using those. Looks like Uline has packages of 500 retail bags, 16″ x 20″ for $44. Not a very big investment to make a large point.

AZfederalist on June 2, 2012 at 10:04 PM

I don’t give a crap. Me and my business, my wife, three of our kids (and two of their businesses), and our four grandchildren will be DRIVING out of this hell-hole next year. We expect the fourth daughter and son-in-law (and his business) to follow us a year or two later. Arizona here we come.

MikeinPRCA on June 2, 2012 at 8:22 PM

We happily welcome you as long as you don’t bring any of those deranged Californian political ideas. We don’t want to be californicated.

AZfederalist on June 2, 2012 at 10:06 PM

Meanwhile, I’m being forced into buying canvas bags to haul my groceries.

The Ugly American on June 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I know you have to provide your own bags, but what would be keeping you from ordering some plastic bags from someplace like uline.com (or others) and using those. Looks like Uline has packages of 500 retail bags, 16″ x 20″ for $44. Not a very big investment to make a large point.

AZfederalist on June 2, 2012 at 10:04 PM

This is a great idea, as the canvas bags need to be frequently cleaned to avoid e-coli and other fine specimens from mingling with your groceries.. Plus the satisfaction of throwing away the plastic bags will make you feel like you’re contributing to the carbon footprint!t.

kringeesmom on June 2, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Is this the transcontinental high-speed rail?

The Rogue Tomato on June 2, 2012 at 8:19 PM

It sure as H**l ain’t the John Galt Line.

cheers

eon

eon on June 2, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Just remember what environmentalists are really aiming for:

Alternative Energy = Alternative TO energy.
Atlernative Transportation = Alternative TO transportation.

And in some extreme cases:

Alternative Lifestyle = Alternative TO life.

Chaz706 on June 2, 2012 at 10:25 PM

I hope the damn thing is tied up in court for years and costs $200 billion by the time its done.

tommer74 on June 2, 2012 at 10:26 PM

For California? I think we should DOUBLE them.

mouell on June 2, 2012 at 10:33 PM

I want a the entire COUNTRY to have a PERMANENT WAIVER from anything the EPA demands.

BTW, has anyone been keeping tabs on Cass Sunstein lately?

listens2glenn on June 2, 2012 at 11:03 PM

Just remember what environmentalists are really aiming for:

Alternative Energy = Alternative TO energy.
Atlernative Transportation = Alternative TO transportation.

And in some extreme cases:

Alternative Lifestyle = Alternative TO life.

Chaz706 on June 2, 2012 at 10:25 PM

.
The Environmental movement IS, and always has been about disabling the United States, period.

listens2glenn on June 2, 2012 at 11:07 PM

That’s the last straw. Now I am truly and thoroughly pissed off. What a bunch of %$#$ing !!&#$ f@#&wads. The rail project is a disaster to begin with, but this is what they call adding insult to injury. You can’t hardly scratch your azz in this state anymore without having to get permission from fifteen different agencies – and that’s before you get sued by some no-growth nimbys or bananas/environazis.

My jaw hit the floor a few years ago when I realized there were people who were actually going to vote for Jerry Brown to be governor again. It’s only gotten worse, though. I don’t see any hope on the horizon, because everywhere I go I see more reliable Democrat voters ready for our bright green ecologically enlightened future.

Xasprtr on June 2, 2012 at 11:11 PM

…hey Moonbeam!
.
.
.
it’s the ECONOMY stupid…!!!

KOOLAID2 on June 2, 2012 at 11:29 PM

I want signed, legally enforceable legislation, passed by Gov. Brown, banning all elected and non-elected state officials traveling
within the state from using commercial, chartered or private aircraft when traveling to points connecting SF bay area, Sacramento, Fresno, LA and San Diego.

If Democrats want high speed rail, let them prove it.

Codify SB “2016 California elected official high speed travel act.”

13times on June 3, 2012 at 3:48 AM

Excellent comments. I have nothing to add, but for jumping into the deep end.
Boondoggle is too kind. CA used to be a place to be or wish upon a star…
Beautiful.

Doomcrats™ have ruined another of this world’s gems.

To be fair and evenhanded, they should have their own little world, somewhere,
distant perhaps. We’ll have a meetup, after a few years, and ask one another ‘how
you durring?’ Shirley Q says it like that.

mickytx on June 3, 2012 at 4:59 AM

Destruction of a wonderful, resource rich, beautiful state.

bazil9 on June 2, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Amen bazil9. I’ve only traveled there but I truly love it. I was in San Francisco in August and spent 6 wonderful days there. I have friends there, and the people and place is awesome.

BUT, the state is in the hands of some kind of crazed not-living-in-reality thought, culminated in making a train that will only increase their debt with every rider on the train.

If they get this environmental waiver, it will be the height of hypocracy. Victor Davis Hanson has written eloquently about his beloved home state and the loss of the Central Valley, the bread basket to the world, and the impact of environmental laws.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/255320/two-californias-victor-davis-hanson?page=1

I feel sorry for California, but IMO I think the whole system will have to collapse on itself before they will ever find their way out.

itsspideyman on June 3, 2012 at 6:30 AM

In view of the fact that the train will never be built and its only purpose is to spread money around the politically correct I see no problem here.

enginemike on June 3, 2012 at 11:15 AM

The people of California actually voted for this, just as they voted for Moonbeam. That’s why it’s not safe or wise to stay in California any longer.

claudius on June 3, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Since this will be a California train, I propose it be named THE DING-A-LING.

MaiDee on June 3, 2012 at 11:38 AM

But what will happen to the Darter Smelt if we build a choo choo?

If man were meant to roll, he’d have wheels!

MJBrutus on June 3, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Sane people might ask why CA would chase this kind of political boondoggle. But them, we are the dopes who elected moonbeam…TWICE! Brown is an odd ball at best, a complete hack for the libs. No brains or balls. Anyone who cared might take a look at the San Diego county Sprinter rail failure. 20 mile of rail budgeted for about $200M, cost about a billion, carries about a hundred pax daily. A low tech failure that should provide some insight to the mmagnitude od failure inevitable for the bullet train.

StevC on June 3, 2012 at 1:58 PM