The Latest: California court bolsters bullet train opponents

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on a California Supreme Court ruling with implications for the state's high-speed rail project (all times local):

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12:45 p.m.

The California Supreme Court says federal law does not exempt state rail projects from California's strict environmental review law.

The decision on Thursday ensures continued legal complications for the $64 billion high-speed rail project championed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The high court voted 6-1 to overturn a lower court ruling and in doing so gave renewed hope to those who have used the California Environmental Quality Act to challenge the train.

The state's High-Speed Rail Authority had urged the court to find that federal law trumps the state's environmental law.

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The court said that a lower court interpreted federal law too broadly when it agreed with the rail authority that federal law trumped state review.

1:15 a.m.

An upcoming California Supreme Court ruling could help speed construction of the state's $64 billion high-speed rail project.

The court will decide Thursday whether federal law exempts state-owned and funded rail lines from California's strict environmental review law.

The ruling will come in a lawsuit filed under the California Environmental Quality Act challenging plans to introduce freight trains on a Northern California rail line.

Supporters and critics of the state's high-speed rail system say the decision also could apply to the bullet train planned between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The high-speed rail project has faced numerous lawsuits alleging violations of the environmental quality act. Those lawsuits could disappear if the California Supreme Court rules that federal law pre-empts the act for state rail projects.