Fastlane Transportation, Inc. et al. v. City of Los Angeles and BNSF Railway Co.
In 2013 the City of Los Angeles approved the BNSF Railway Company’s proposal to build a huge new rail yard across the road from West Long Beach, a low-income community of color. Despite the city’s own analysis that the project, Southern California International Gateway (SCIG), would have significant negative impacts on nearby residents and the environment—including decreased air quality, additional greenhouse gas emissions, and increased traffic and noise—officials decided to move ahead.
By doing so—and by understating SCIG’s true environmental impacts in its environmental analysis—the city not only violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) but also disregarded state civil rights laws. So NRDC, representing environmental justice groups and individuals, filed suit.
In 2016, the Superior Court found the city’s environmental analysis deficient on numerous grounds, voided the project approvals, and suspended all SCIG activities until the deficiencies were corrected. It did not rule on the civil rights claim. The city and BNSF appealed our victory to the California Court of Appeal, which in early 2018 found, but on narrower grounds, that the city’s environmental analysis of SCIG was inadequate under CEQA.
Under the Court of Appeal decision, the project approvals remain voided and all SCIG activities are suspended while the Port and BNSF correct the deficiencies in their environmental review. As of August 2020, the Port and BNSF have yet to release this revised review.
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Southern California International Gateway project violates state and federal law and puts communities at risk.