|WSJ: California's Green Exception Lawsuit relief for high-speed rail, but not for others.|
|In The News|
|Tuesday, 05 June 2012 15:00|
California's environmental laws have made industrial development increasingly difficult—to the extent that they are now interfering with other green priorities. Witness the request by the state's High-Speed Rail Authority to seek a legislative waiver against green lawsuits, of all things.
"I'd like to be in a world where, if we're before a judge somewhere, the remedies available for the judge go to mitigation as opposed to injunctive relief," Authority Chairman Dan Richard told the state legislature last month.
California must meet certain deadlines to qualify for federal funds for the $68 billion train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and lawsuits could slow the railroad down. The train is part of the big green dream to liberate Americans from their automobiles. So Mr. Richard wants legislators to issue a special exemption barring judges from using the California Environmental Quality Act to grant injunctions against railroad construction while environmental suits work their way through court.
Governor Jerry Brown's office is already preparing a proposal along these lines. This is becoming a habit with the Governor, who last year intervened to ask a federal judge to deny an injunction against a solar plant in the Mojave Desert. Environmentalists claim the plant violates the federal Endangered Species Act that protects a local desert tortoise. Mr. Brown found it outrageous that anyone would oppose "the sun in California," which he said "is like the oil in Texas. It's fabulous wealth waiting to be developed." The judge agreed and the plant is being built while the suit proceeds.
It's too bad other California businesses can't apply for the same relief from lawsuits that have little merit but are filed solely to obtain injunctions and thus add cost and uncertainty to kill a new plant or home. Might Mr. Brown intervene for them?