Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reforming environmental law to get the Perris Valley Line moving

(4/2/13) – IE Transit Talking Points Short

The California State Legislature has some work to do to reform state environmental law. An April 1, 2013 court ruling on RCTC’s long-proposed Perris Valley Line Metrolink extension shows that Judge Sharon J. Waters ruled in favor of the opposing party on 5 of the 15 environmental concerns brought up in court: negations to the soil, track lubricant usage, pedestrian safety, train wheel noise pollution, and construction related noise. This leaves the Perris Valley Line case in a complicated position under the current law, but the legislature has the power to avert further delays caused by broad court rulings by changing the law:
  • Are all environmentally sensitive soil areas and wildlife habitats throughout the state documented as protected nature reserves?
  • Which types of rail lubricants harm the environment to the point that they should be outlawed?
  • How much noise caused by train wheels is too much?
  • How much construction noise is too much near residential areas? If a construction contractor generates too much noise, does local code enforcement have the power to fine the violating firm?
 As mentioned, the state legislature should follow through on its promise to close up California Environmental Quality Act loopholes so courts cannot delay, veto or overturn large projects which actually benefit the environment and reduce traffic congestion like the Perris Valley Line. Such lawsuits delay important projects which gets paid for by the taxpayer. It is a common fact that a rail transit alternative for the I-215 corridor would reduce congestion and pollution by providing a multi-modal transportation option to single-occupancy automobile travel, thus fulfilling the goals and intents of state environmental law which is to protect the environment.

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