Supreme Court will hear Friends of the Eel River

The California Supreme Court has granted a petition for review of Friends of the Eel River v. North Coast Railroad Authority. We previously wrote about the case here.

Friends of the Eel River and Town of Atherton created an appellate court split on the issue of federal preemption of railway projects. The court in Atherton held that the market participant doctrine, whereby proprietary state actions are protected from federal preemption, applies to the High Speed Rail. Friends of the Eel River disagreed. The court held that even if the decision to prepare an EIR were proprietary, a writ proceeding by a private group challenging the adequacy of that review would be regulatory, and not part of the proprietary action.

Recently, the Surface Transportation board issued a decision holding that federal law preempts application of CEQA to a portion of the High Speed Rail line. In reading this conclusion, the court sided with Friends of the Eel River and disagreed with Atherton on the market participant issue.

Appellants are set to file their opening brief on the merits at the end of February.