BNSF To Appeal Ruling in SCIG Case
BNSF Railway To Appeal Ruling in Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) Case
Decision Sets Dangerous Precedent for Infrastructure Projects Statewide
Fort Worth, Texas, August 2, 2016 – BNSF Railway has announced it will file an appeal after a lower court ruled the environmental analysis for the proposed Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) was insufficient and ordered the City of Los Angeles and Board of Harbor Commissioners to vacate and set aside their approvals of the project. The appeal will contend that the ruling is incorrect, as the lower court applied an inappropriate evidentiary standard and disregarded a comprehensive eight-year environmental review in making its ruling. The Port of Los Angeles is also appealing the ruling.
Roger Nober, Executive Vice President Law and Corporate Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, explained the basis of the appeal, “BNSF is very concerned about the decision’s application of what BNSF believes is an incorrect and unprecedented expansion of the scope of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review to encompass existing facilities distant and distinct from the SCIG project itself, and the precedential effect that ruling may have on the development of other rail facilities, port projects and other much-needed infrastructure in California. BNSF appreciates the strong support of the Port of Los Angeles throughout this process and thanks port leadership and staff for their partnership and collaboration as we’ve worked together for more than a decade to try and bring this project to fruition.”
He continued, “Unless this ruling is promptly and entirely reversed, building SCIG is less likely due to the costs and delay brought on by the CEQA lawsuits. BNSF is committed to its customers and will continue to provide world-class service without SCIG. This ruling is a loss for the region and it sends a strong message that green investment is unwelcome in California. The community and broader region won't benefit from the traffic reductions, air quality improvements and good jobs SCIG would have brought."
SCIG would have represented a $500 million investment in the regional economy. BNSF worked closely with the Port of Los Angeles to develop a project that went well beyond legal requirements, including $100 million in green technologies such as electric cranes, ultra-low emission locomotives and solar energy. The project was modified to incorporate significant changes in both design and operations in direct response to community feedback. The commitment by BNSF to allow only clean trucks on designated industrial routes with GPS tracking, support for zero or near-zero emissions technologies, a soundwall, and intensive landscaping were clear benefits for the surrounding community. In addition, the local community stood to gain from a local jobs training program and priority hiring for new jobs to qualified local job applicants.
BNSF is confident the appellate court will correctly apply the law, reverse the lower court ruling and maintain the existing scope of CEQA.
The Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) would have been located on an existing industrial site between the Terminal Island Freeway, Sepulveda Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway with direct access to the Alameda Corridor. Currently, much of the freight transported from the port to other destinations by rail must travel by truck to rail yards near downtown Los Angeles more than 24 miles away. A new intermodal facility within four miles of the ports would have allowed trucks loaded with cargo containers from ships to travel just a short distance before transferring the containers to rail cars that would then travel through the Alameda Corridor and on to destinations throughout the country.
BNSF Railway is one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies operating on 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states, and also operates in three Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal, and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages. BNSF’s shipments help feed, clothe, supply, and power American homes and businesses every day. BNSF and its employees have developed one of the most technologically advanced, and efficient railroads in the industry. We work continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits we provide to our customers and the communities we serve. You can learn more about BNSF at www.BNSF.com.