California Bullet Train About to Get Hit With Blizzard of Lawsuits

The LA-San Francisco bullet train got hit with another setback last week:

California’s high-speed train project is likely to continue to be buffeted by environmental challenges as a result of a decision by the state’s top court. In a 6-1 ruling last week written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the California Supreme Court decided that federal rail law does not usurp California’s tough environmental regulation for state-owned rail projects.

This is a win-win-for me. I happen to think the bullet train is a bad idea, so anything that slows it down and leads to its possible demise is fine with me.

Alternatively, maybe this will light a fire under Jerry Brown to do something about California’s regulatory environment. It’s not that I think our environmental rules are necessarily too harsh, only that they’re incomprehensible and ungodly slow. One way or another, environmental regs at various levels of government—city, county, state, water district, coastal commission, etc.—need to be streamlined and made less ambiguous. It should be possible to enforce strict standards, but at the same time (a) make it clearer precisely what those standards are, (b) restrict the number of lawsuits over new projects, and (c) give courts the tools to rule more quickly on the lawsuits that remain. It shouldn’t take ten years just to get approval to build a high-rise in central Los Angeles. Either approve it or deny it, but don’t take forever to do it.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate