Construction projects have to meet all applicable laws or they are at risk of being shut down. The so-called bullet train that is set to be built in California has several laws to comply with. One type of law that it has to meet is an environmental law; however, the $64 billion train is at risk of being delayed.
There is a lawsuit moving through the court system now about which laws are applicable to the bullet train. The environmental laws in California are a bit more strict than the federal laws. The lawsuit was filed to clarify which set of laws apply to this project.
California Environmental Quality Act is the act at the center of the controversy right now. The lawsuit that is being heard by the California Supreme Court has to do with environmental laws and the introduction of a freight railroad in the northern area of the state. Experts note that this ruling could have a direct impact on the bullet train.
If it is found that the federal laws trump the state's laws, it could mean that several lawsuits against the bullet train based on environmental law could be tossed out. This could mean that the project would be able to move forward unimpeded.
Being able to follow the National Environmental Policy Act means that the railway could bypass the strict laws without having to violate any laws. Critics of this possibility note that this could harm the environment. These individuals believe that the railway should comply with the strict state laws.
Interestingly, the courts have already ruled in favor of some municipalities in these high speed train cases. As you can imagine, this is a complex case that requires significant consideration. The builders can't just keep building without knowing which laws to comply with.
Source: The Mercury News, "California Supreme Court ruling could end bullet train suits," Sudhin Thanawala, July 27, 2017