By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor
In a 200-page ruling, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barry P. Goode voided BNSF’s Southern California International Gateway’s environmental impact report on March 30.
Further approval by the Los Angeles City Council and the Port of Los Angeles’ subsequent “Site Preparation and Access Agreement and Permit” with BNSF also were voided.
The details involving the claims of the seven groups of plaintiffs involved in the suit remain to be worked out in the months ahead. A new EIR will have to be drafted in order for the project to move forward.
“I am elated that our environmental justice communities, which would be significantly impacted by the BNSF SCIG project, have the Port of Los Angeles, the largest container port in the U.S.,” said the founder of Communities for a Safe Environment, Jesse Marquez, in a released statement.
Marquez was one of the chief litigants in the lawsuit against the project.
Marquez noted that the new railroad yard intermodal facility would produce more air pollution, noise and truck traffic and would impact Wilmington, Carson and Long Beach residents who would live near the facility and connecting railroad tracks.
“I am disappointed that Los Angeles Mayor [Eric] Garcetti took no leadership role to meet with his own city residents in the environmental lawsuit and our neighboring cities to help guide the Port of LA to a pre-court settlement,” Marquez said. “We claimed throughout the public hearing process that the environmental impact report was inadequate and failed to contain all required information on the project’s negative environmental and public health impacts and what mitigation measures that were available.”
Among other thing, the ruling found that “The EIR declines to analyze impacts that may arise with regard to [the maintenance facility] Hobart and Sheila. As a result, it does not adequately apprise either the public or decision-makers of the reasonably foreseeable indirect impacts,” that “The EIR’s analysis of ambient air quality dispersion impacts (AQ-4) is wanting,” that the the EIR’s greenhouse gas analysis “is deficient because it omits to consider Hobart,” and that “The Cumulative Impacts section of the EIR failed to consider (or show it considered) the cumulative impacts on air quality from the operation of SCIG and ICTF combined.”