by Hank Sims
Who didn't think it would come to this? The Environmental Protection Information Center, Friends of the Eel and Californians for Alternatives to Toxins, as well as two Marin County environmental groups, today announced their intention to file an amicus brief in the City of Novato's lawsuit against the North Coast Railroad Authority.
The environmental groups’ brief does not open new issues but focuses on three legal issues raised by the City’s writ: (1) the application of CEQA’s statute of limitations; (2) NCRA’s failure to consider the environmental impacts of the "whole project," and its adoption of an unlawful pattern and practice of segmenting environmental review; and (3) NCRA’s inappropriate reliance on inapplicable exemptions from CEQA.
According to the brief, the groups have a collective interest in protection and restoration of the natural environment and resources currently being harmed by the actions of the NCRA as well as sharing a strong commitment to the purposes and procedures of the California Environmental Quality Act. Among the resource issues, the brief says, are the Eel River’s threatened steelhead and salmon fisheries, possible toxic chemical releases from the rail operation, and rail’s potential connection to other destructive industries such as gravel mining.
The case goes to trial Dec. 12. And this is yet another demonstration of the fact that even if the NCRA does win the case, it still loses. Because it has irretrievably pissed off not only the County of Marin -- the richest county in the United States of America -- but some truly fearsome enviro orgs, ones that aren't known to walk away from a fight. And the NCRA has no plans and no budget for taking on such a fight -- a fight that anyone with half an interest in the subject knew was inevitable.
Still think that the trains will return by 2011?
UPDATE: And now comes word that the County of Marin voted to join Novato's lawsuit today. More as it comes.