Attorney General Argues HSR Is No Longer Subject To CEQA

Aug 10th, 2013 | Posted by

Well this is definitely an interesting development. The AP’s Juliet Williams has the scoop:

California’s high-speed rail project is no longer subject to the state’s rigorous environmental laws after a federal transportation board ruled that it has oversight of the project, the state attorney general’s office argues in a brief filed Friday.

The June decision by the federal Surface Transportation Board—which was sought by opponents of the bullet train—pre-empts the authority of the California Environmental Quality Act, the state argued in the filing made on behalf of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

“The STB’s decision concluding it has jurisdiction over the entire high-speed train system fundamentally affects the regulatory environment for the project going forward,” the state said in the brief submitted to the Third District Court of Appeals, which was obtained by The Associated Press….

The state asked the court to dismiss a five-year-old lawsuit filed by the San Francisco Bay Area cities of Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto seeking to block the bullet train through the Pacheco Pass south of San Francisco. They argued that the route would harm the environment.

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge dismissed their suit in February but they appealed to the federal court, which last month ordered both sides to answer the question “Does federal law pre-empt state environmental law with respect to California’s high-speed rail system?”

The $68 billion project will have to comply with stringent environmental laws regardless of the court’s decision in the Atherton lawsuit. But if the court sides with the state, it would mean complying only with the National Environmental Policy Act, and any lawsuits would have to be filed in federal court….

Rail authority Chief Executive Jeff Morales said there is “overwhelming overlap” between the two environmental laws, and that high-speed rail is committed to environmental protection even beyond the laws, such as requiring fuel efficient technology for construction and a carbon-neutral project.

“Those are things that aren’t strictly required under federal or state law and that would not change based on the outcome of this,” Morales said in an interview Friday.

So this is a very interesting development, to put it mildly. Anti-HSR forces may have wound up scoring quite an own goal here. It was Republican Jeff Denham who pushed for the federal Surface Transportation Board to assert jurisdiction over the project in hopes that doing so would lead to a significant delay. The STB asserted jurisdiction but did not force a delay. And if the courts agree with the Attorney General, then the ability of anti-HSR folks to use CEQA to block the project would be significantly diminished, perhaps even entirely eliminated.

The HSR project would still be subject to NEPA, so it’s not like there would be no environmental review at all. But this could be one fewer hurdle for the project, especially as it moves forward beyond the Initial Construction Segment in the Central Valley.

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  1. synonymouse
    Aug 10th, 2013 at 21:31
    #1

    If meeting CEQA standards was promised and enumerated in the stipulations of Prop 1A removing its coverage falsifies and invalidates Prop 1A.

    Fake Irishman Reply:

    At the risk of engaging with insanity (and keeping in mind that IANAL):
    See Section 2704.08c (2) Part K (on page 11) of the voters’ guide that details the text of the bill:

    ” the authority has completed all necessary project level environmental
    clearances necessary to proceed to construction”

    http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2008/general/pdf-guide/suppl-complete-guide.pdf#prop1a

    That seems to indicate “necessary.” If a federal court rules that the surface transportation board’s jurisdiction exempts CHSRA from the state-level CEQA, then by my reading of the supremacy clause, the NEPA is the only “necessary” act.

    I will now stop feeding the trolls.

  2. Resident
    Aug 10th, 2013 at 22:24
    #2

    Really clever move. The STATE, suing to asserting that a federal, politically appointed, board of three people, appointed by (whom? the president? the party in power?) can simply by asserting its own jurisdiction, can by force override the entirety of the state’s environmental laws. And Im sure you’ll all be loving it again someday when they guy whose politics you don’t happen to agree with it is elected, and decides HE likes say, oil pipelines, oil rigs, clear cut logging, nuclear waste dumps, damns, coal power, fracking, freeway expansion, etc etc etc etc. Good Robert – glad to know you’re a company man, supporter at all costs – and you DO mean all costs don’t you.
    (I hope Kamala Harris doesn’t pull something while she’s bending over that far.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    When Novato sued SMART the court ruled local regs did not apply, only State. Now that is thrown out.

    Eric M Reply:

    Wrong. The judge ruled federal law has precedence over state environmental regulation.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Interpretation: if the Feds don’t require it, you don’t need it. And if they do require it you have to live with it. Thus SMART does not have to be concerned legally about residents bitching about horns.

    Peter Reply:

    They would have to comply with federal law re horns even if the state law banned the use of horns, basic commerce clause conflict preemption issue.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Under this ruling it would appear the states cannot ban anything having to do with railroads.

    Interstate commerce is an amorphous concept. You could certainly apply it to oil drilling platforms, refineries, marijuana laws, virtually any nanny law. The list is endless.

    VBobier Reply:

    BARF…

    Peter Reply:

    Wrong, try again.

    The state can still regulate anything that doesn’t conflict with any federal rule to the contrary. Look at the infamous GO-26D rule, or the CPUC’s incompetent attempt to regulate the installation and operation of HSR’s 25kV OCS system. One of the areas that will, however, be out of bounds for state regulation is rail safety.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Obviously it is whatever you can try to get away with. Aka all politics.

    But effectively the rr’s are arguing that unless it is prohibited or otherwise limited by the Feds they are allowed to do it. It is an extension of the no duties between states and free trade principles laid out in the Constitution.

    So it is a swearing contest and a lawyers’ paradise and pits states rights and home rule against the “Union”, the federal government.

    Right to work laws and liquor and gambling laws are other classic examples. Once again it is all politics and “power, power, who’s got the power.”

    But we’ll find out soon just who owns the judges.

    Travis D Reply:

    Sure, because electric trains are absolutely the same thing as the Love Canal. That certainly isn’t an insane comparison.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You are comparing one of the most innocuous rail operations(“electric trains”}to one of the most egregious toxic waste dumps in US history.

    Fairer comparison would be Lac-Megantic to the Love Canal.

  3. Resident
    Aug 10th, 2013 at 22:26
    #3

    Yes, appointed by the President.

  4. Rich
    Aug 10th, 2013 at 22:55
    #4

    CHSRA didn’t initiate the original appeal to the STB. Opponents of HSR did. CHSRA originally argued to STB that STB didn’t have authority over CHSRA, but STB decided that it did have authority overt HSR due to the project having connection to interstate commerce in its explicit intent to link to AMtrak interstate service but decided that it didn’t need to issue a project approval and that FRA had already dealt with NEPA. There have been numerous prior cases wherein railroad projects under STB authority have been preempted from state laws where the project involved interstate commerce. So, CHSRA didn’t go seeking this, but now that STB has taken jurisdiction, CHSRA is arguing to the state appellate court hearing the CEQA appeals by HSR opponents that STB jurisdiction means that there is a preemption of CEQA. We shall see. FYI, the North Coast Railway Authority has argued for years that its rehabilitation of freight lines in North Coast counties is exempt from CEQA due to STP pre-emption. A Marin Superior Court ruling earlier this year found that the project was exempt from CEQA, but opponents are appealing this ruling.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s Willits, not Novato. SMART has an environmental agreement with the latter but it would appear they could abrogate that now.

  5. Emmanuel
    Aug 10th, 2013 at 23:45
    #5

    Sorry, but if the court should really rule that way, it would be bogus and unconstitutional. If federal and state law overlap, the general rule should be to apply the law with the most rules/restrictions/regulations. And that is CEQA (I think). Implementing CHSR without standing with the standards of the environmental protection laws we have passed would downright violate one of the main pillars of Prop 1A which is that the ends must not justify the means.

    This is NOT the way to fight the anti-HSR. It is beyond me what you are trying to say here, pretending that nullifying CEQA would benefit the project and draw less opposition. If anything, it will draw more opposition because now you got the attention of those who fought for every single rule in CEQA and want big projects, especially the ones by the state government, follow it. HSR is not above everything. The real solution is to develop a plan that is in line with CEQA and federal regulations and so well done, that the opposition will not find ground on which it can feed.

    Matthew Reply:

    Without taking a position on this, let me just point out that there is no such “general rule to apply the law with the most rules/restrictions/regulations.” Actually such a rule would raise a whole bunch of questions about ordering, which are not necessarily so easy to resolve. But in fact, if the matter is under Federal jurisdiction, then Federal law applies. That’s how it works, for better or for worse.

    For example, we recently had an issue where a company wanted to ship ethanol via train through a bunch of densely populated communities along commuter rail lines. Ethanol is highly flammable and cannot be extinguished except with specialized chemicals. Local residents went to state elected officials to try and stop them, but they could not do anything directly: it was interstate commerce and therefore regulated by the Feds. In the end the company backed down. I don’t know if the Quebec disaster had anything to do with that but for now they’re going to stick to water transportation.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Brown has gone over to the dark side; he is a developer shill and wants to go back to the bad old days pre-CEQA or any environmental rules.

    Bad old days means only the richest and most connected can protect their back yard from depredation. So PAMPA will need all its billionaires and their fat political contributions to stave off PB’s 4 track aerials while not just Valley farmers but smaller interests in the Tehachapis will be run over. Of course not the Tejon Ranch Co., which has the Jerry Brown Regime grabbed by the gonads.

  6. Clem
    Aug 11th, 2013 at 08:48
    #6

    Does anyone have a copy of the actual letter submitted by the Attorney General?

    The relevant case is C070877 before the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

    The only reference I can find in the case docket is this explicit request from the court:

    The date previously set for oral argument is vacated pending further order of the court. The court orders supplemental briefing on the effect on this case of the June 13, 2013 decision by the Surface Transportation Board asserting jurisdiction over the HST system under 49 U.S.C. § 10501 (a)(2)(A). The parties should address the points raised in the Attorney General’s letter of June 26, 2013, and the Town of Atherton’s letter of June 28, 2013. Specifically, the parties should address both of the following questions, regardless of their answer to the first question: 1. Does federal law preempt state environmental law with respect to California’s high-speed rail system? (See City of Auburn v. United States Government (9th Cir. 1998) 154 F.3d 1025; Association of American Railroads v. South Coast Air Quality Management Dist. (9th Cir. 2010) 622 F.3d 1094.) 2. Assuming that federal law does, in fact, preempt state law in this area, is the preemption in the nature of an affirmative defense that is waived if not raised in the trial court or is the preemption jurisdictional in nature? (See International Longshoremen’s Ass’n, AFL-CIO v. Davis (1986) 476 U.S. 380, 390-391 [90 L.Ed.2d 389]; Elam v. Kansas City Southern Ry. Co. (5th Cir. 2011) 635 F.3d 796, 810; Girard v. Youngstown Belt Ry. Co. (Ohio 2012) 979 N.E.2d 1273, 1280.) Respondent’s supplemental letter brief is to be served and filed on or before August 9, 2013. Appellants’ supplemental letter briefs are to be served and filed on or before September 17, 2013 BLEASE, Acting P.J.

    Just not the actual letter itself…

    Peter Reply:

    Unfortunately, the transition to paperless did not go very well for California’s courts. I’d ask Mike Brady or Stuart Flashman, they would probably be willing to pass it on. Let me know if they do give it to you, I’m interested, too.

    morris brown Reply:

    @CLEM (and others)

    Unfortunately both Brady and Flashman are on vacation until the end of this week or so. I would also like a copy of the Attorney General’s brief.

    What I do find obnoxious is the headline being applied to this story from the AP, as authored by Juliet Williams

    Robert here has at least given this thread an accurate title / headline, for which I thank him. He posts the thread as:

    Attorney General Argues HSR Is No Longer Subject To CEQA

    The key being the first three words “Attorney General Argues”… Indeed that is all that has happened here is the Attorney General has under court directive submitted to the Appellate court its brief as directed by the court.

    Contrast this to the headlines / titles that have accompanied this same article in many of the print and on-line media which read:


    Bullet train: Calif. enviro law does not apply

    or

    Feds say environmental law does not apply to California high-speed rail

    These headlines are totally miss-leading at best and are a clear example of lousy reporting. Of course, as a friend of mine noted, these kind of headlines sell more papers.

    VBobier Reply:

    Federal law trumps state laws cause of the US Constitution’s Supremacy Clause & that means NEPA applies to HSR in CA…

    Emmanuel Reply:

    That doesn’t mean that you only have to follow federal law. You should still be held liable if you don’t follow the additional provisions if a similar law was passed on state level. The promise of Prop 1A was to comply to California environmental standards. Everybody knows that the federal equivalents are a joke. You might as well run HSR with diesel, and do mountaintop removal to shorten the distances.

    VBobier Reply:

    Where the equivalent federal laws apply I’d expect they would apply, soon enough at the state level, aesthetics will no longer apply to CEQA, just as aesthetics doesn’t with federal law, aesthetics is a bad joke…

    synonymouse Reply:

    “aesthetics is a bad joke…”

    You mean we don’t require iconic any more?

    VBobier Reply:

    BARF…

    Mike Reply:

    Emmanuel, many would probably agree with you that “you should still be held liable if you don’t follow the additional provisions if a similar law was passed on state level,” but that’s not how federal pre-emption works. In many cases Congress specifies that more stringent state laws remain in force (e.g., many of California’s air quality laws), but as I understand it, no such provision is provided with respect to STB exclusive jurisdiction over railroads.

    Clem Reply:

    CHSRA has always complied with NEPA in all its environmental work to date. That’s what an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) is for. Nothing is proposed to change there. The CHSRA prepares environmental clearance documents that comply with both laws (an EIS under NEPA and an EIR under CEQA)

    And no, NEPA is not a joke.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Only if you can find a judge willing to enforce it. I think we will soon see Jerry Brown has managed to grease the skids.

    VBobier Reply:

    BARF…

    Peter Reply:

    So, federal judges are under the same thrall you claim state judges to be?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Pelosi mind rays are a powerful thing.

  7. Ted Judah
    Aug 11th, 2013 at 11:41
    #7

    So this is a very interesting development, to put it mildly. Anti-HSR forces may have wound up scoring quite an own goal here.

    Own goal?

    More like CHSRA shooting the moon in hearts.

    Resident Reply:

    more like CHSRA cutting off California’s nose to spite their face.

    Travis D Reply:

    How do you figure?

  8. morris brown
    Aug 11th, 2013 at 19:26
    #8

    LA Times:

    ‘Shovel-ready’ bullet train construction delayed again

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bullet-delays-20130812,0,4180504.story

    Extremely interesting with many disclosures about the lack of progress on the project.

    Note this:

    Ron Tutor, chief executive of Tutor Perini, the firm chosen in June to build the first phase of the project stretching north from Fresno, said his firm is months from beginning substantial construction because it has considerable engineering and design work to complete. And, as of Friday, Tutor’s firm, which is supposed to build the initial 29 miles of the system by 2017 for $985 million, was still awaiting a formal contract from the state.

    “The way I see it, the earliest any real construction can start, other than demolition or clearing, is after the first of the year,” Tutor said in an interview. “We will have to complete design work and get permits.”

    So kiss off construction starting in September and look at a start at the earliest next year.

    Travis D Reply:

    Everyone knew that the first thing you have to do is demolition and clearing things. Hell most of the land won’t even be bought before next year.

    VBobier Reply:

    You want or expect instant results, as Travis D said, it isn’t going to happen as you think or say, since you know nothing…

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Eh, it’s a good delay for once. They should wait until the court ruling. You don’t want to start construction just to find out that you can’t finish it the way you wanted to, massively slowing down the train. If there was less resistance from local governments and companies, the whole thing would have been a little bit more on schedule.

  9. Derek
    Aug 12th, 2013 at 12:49
    #9

    United States issues RFP for new passenger locos
    By Kevin Smith, International Railway Journal, 2013-08-12

    THE United States Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for 35 200km/h diesel-electric locomotives [and 130 double-deck coaches] for use on inter-city and commuter services in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Washington, California, and Oregon.

    The first deliveries are expected in late 2015 and early 2016.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    1980s technology, a giant leap forward from the 70s technology currently in use.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I would guess that’s your orphan ARRA-IOS tech. Diesel AmBART. Can Amtrak’s coaches handle 200km/h gracefully?

    aw Reply:

    NextGen procurments of Viewliner II and the bilevel corridor cars are spec’ed for 125mph. NEC regional trains already go 125mph.

    William Reply:

    I would like to see Caltrans buy a few ALP-45DP for trains run on both electrified and non-electrified railroads, such as the Northern California Unified Service trains between Merced and SF/SJ

    Joey Reply:

    I would like to see nothing that heavy even come near our new tightly-aligned high speed tracks.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The NCUS is not going to be electrified. It may be phased out in favored of electrified service, but it’s going to be the same-old, same-old unless they pay articulated, lighter trainsets like what you see with the Cascades….

  10. Reality Check
    Aug 12th, 2013 at 13:57
    #10

    Revealed: Elon Musk Explains the Hyperloop

    The critics of California’s high-speed rail may be dismayed to learn that Musk does not plan to commercialize or even develop the Hyperloop technology for the time being. He’s posting the plans and asking for feedback. “I’m just putting this out there as an open source design,” he says. “There are sure to be suggestions out there for making this better, correcting any mistakes, and refining the design.” Musk maintains that he has too much on his plate to deal with bringing the Hyperloop to fruition. “I wish I had not mentioned it,” he says. “I still have to run SpaceX and Tesla, and it’s fucking hard.”

    http://www.spacex.com/hyperloop

    Reality Check Reply:

    Interestingly, Musk’s alignment (page 49) goes from SF, under the Bay to Oakland and then out the Valley over Altamont pass via I-880 and I-580. PAMPA will love it; SJ will hate it.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Also can be read at
    http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/blog_images/hyperloop-alpha.pdf

    Quickly skimming, Musk says after Altamont its along I-5 over the Grapevine to LA with branches to San Diego, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Fresno.

    Sits on pylons. Musk says they will be spaced every 100 feet and rise 20 to 100 feet in height depending upon the terrain. (I wonder if we can call it Stilt-A-Tube??)

    Interesting annual passenger estimates by Musk and his crew, especially for Fresno relative to the estimates for the others:
    LA to SF: at least 6 million passengers per year
    San Diego Branch Station: 3 million passengers per year
    Las Vegas Branch Station: 1.8 million passengers per year
    Fresno Branch Station: 1.5 million passengers per year (1 million LA-Fresno, 1/2 million SF-Fresno)
    Sacramento Branch Station: 1 million passengers per year

    Travis D Reply:

    So the entire thing would be elevated? With loads of meandering branches?

    This thing would cost a fortune!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Stilt–A-Tube: truly choice.

    But he goes along clearly with SNCF as to routing.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Actually, I just made up the part about “under the Bay”. The route map (figure 31) on page 49 doesn’t make clear whether the tubes are under or over the Bay … but they do appear to follow the SFOBB I-80 alignment. And then you have figure 32 which suggests the SF Bay Area station (and terminus) may actually be in the Hayward area. Whatever. Anybody can draw lines on a map, right?

    JJJJ Reply:

    Its pretty laughable.

    “Hey look how cheap my LA-SF project is!”

    And yet his project doesnt actually go into Sf or LA….which is where the high costs are. Looks like a Burbank-Dublin plan to me, which mysteriously doesnt have station costs.

    Reedman Reply:

    The Tesla plant is in Fremont (the east bay area of northern CA), so I would assume Musk would want the terminus there.

    VBobier Reply:

    Not like it’ll ever get built, as making a vacuum at near lunar quality is currently just about impossible, which makes the whole idea impractical and doubly expensive, since the tunnels/tubes would have to be constantly pumped free of any gasses and any air in the tube is just unwanted friction to deal with, that’s why Musk is only floating the idea, nothing more.

    Clem Reply:

    Pumping down to 100 pascals is not technically difficult and is a well-understood problem.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    A report I saw claimed they looked at the cost/benefit tradeoffs of various vacuum pressures.

    J. Wong Reply:

    It said low-pressure not vacuum. It’s actually supposed to fly on a thin layer of air within the tube so that doesn’t sound like a “vacuum”.

    Clem Reply:

    100 pascals (the operating pressure of Hyperloop) is what you get when you remove 99.9% of the air, and leave the remaining one thousandth.

    Partial, maybe…

    clb Reply:

    0.5g….

    in case you were wondering about curvature…

    Clem Reply:

    That’s some pretty significant discomfort there. Better keep a barf bag handy. It’s more than you feel during the takeoff run of an airliner.

    Can we have a Hyperloop open thread? The California High Speed Rail Blog is where a lot of the Hyperloop boosters would presumably come for some well-earned schadenfreude. We can see if this is more controversial than Tejon.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Hyperloop- we don’t serve lunch, you do!

    mike Reply:

    A few initial thoughts:

    1. His minimum curve radius in the SF and LA urban areas is almost 4,000m (even with 0.5g turns). This is equivalent to building an HSR system that can sustain 300 kph even through the SF and LA urban areas. Good luck.

    2. Capacity is equivalent to an LGV that can carry just under 1 tph in each direction.

    3a. The tube alone weighs 300t per 200m. This is only modestly lighter than a 200m TGV Duplex (380t). The necessary elevated supporting structure will not be that much cheaper to build than a 350 mile long rail viaduct.

    4b. The 30m concrete pylon spacing is similar to BART aerial pylon spacing. For approximate construction cost, think of building an aerial BART line from SF to LA (but with much wider station spacing).

    4. On other hand, if you assume a zero-cost, continuous ROW with 4,000m min radius curves from SF to LA (as Musk does), I can easily build you a system that carries 15 tph with a ~2 hour SF-LA run times for under $6 billion using Musk-style cost calculations.

    5. It will be interesting to see what the safety plan is for a rapid capsule decompression. “Oxygen masks” is not a valid answer when the tube pressure is 100 Pascals (equivalent to the atmosphere at above 100,000 ft).

    6. It will be interesting to see what the emergency braking system is for quickly decelerating from 700 mph in a near-vacuum. An unexplained reference to an “emergency mechanical braking system” is not a valid answer.

    Clem Reply:

    I would like to post my thoughts, but I am holding out for Robert to start a Hyperloop open thread.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    Why not do a writeup on your blog?

    Clem Reply:

    Out of my scope, and far smaller audience… It’s not just what you say, it’s where you say it!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m doing this tomorrow. Wait for it.

    Clem Reply:

    Sweet!

    Reality Check Reply:

    As a SCUBA divers know, rapid decompression causes decompression sickness (DCS). Loss of pod pressurization while inside the tube pumped down to the equivalent of 100,000 feet of altitude could cause gases (such as nitrogen) which are normally dissolved in blood and joint fluids at standard temperature and pressure (STP) to rapidly come out of dissolution and form lots of micro-bubbles anywhere there is blood — a horribly painful and probably fatal experience.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not a problem to pressurize the inside of the pod, the way planes are pressurized.

    The problem is everything else in the proposal.

    Reality Check Reply:

    The problem raised was sudden and/or uncontrolled loss of pod pressurization.

    Airliners don’t fly at 100,000 feet and have viable options such as deploying oxygen masks and/or descending to a lower altitude.

    Clem Reply:

    Correct, there is enough residual pressure and oxygen to survive an aircraft decompression. This is quite unlike in the Hyperloop tube, where there is only a partial (1 thousandth) atmosphere, and survival is only possible for 90 seconds or so.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s a vehicle traveling at 700 miles an hour, in tube, delicately balanced in a cushion of low pressure air just an inch or so from the tube. What happens when that delicate balance is disrupted by the sudden release of the pod’s pressure, even through a bullet sized hole? It crashes into the opposite wall at 700 mph and abruptly stops. The blood inside your lungs won’t have time to boil off the nitrogen through your mouth. It will just evaporate when you lungs splatter against something that’s had decelerated a lot faster than you did.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ah. Sure. The assumption with any such system should be that depressurization is fatal.

    When I wrote my vactrain post in April, I actually tried thinking about this a bit. The loopy idea I came up with was to line both the vehicle and the interior of the tube with compressed oxygen tanks, capable of opening when their sensors perceive hull breach; steel gates would seal behind the train and a stopping distance ahead, limiting the damage to the rest of the system. The problem, of course, is that the train would suddenly have to deal with a large and rising atmospheric pressure ahead of it, which would lead to rapid heating and huge drag.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    when the rapidly expanding cloud of gas disrupts the delicate balance between their pod and the wall, carreening into the wall will make the discomfort of the bends end quickly, as they spatter.

  11. Emmanuel
    Aug 12th, 2013 at 13:58
    #11

    I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I can’t help but notice that in most construction projects, the longer it is planned and delayed, the worse it gets.

    Now is that because of second thoughts derailing the original idea or is it because the ideal plan was never possible to turn into reality? Or maybe both?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    More to the point Emmanuel, how relevant will it be when finally complete? And of course it will not be relevant at all if not complete.

  12. Emmanuel
    Aug 12th, 2013 at 14:00
    #12

    On that note, here’s Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Live coverage
    http://live.theverge.com/live-hyperloop-announcement-elon-musk/

    If anybody has a live video stream, please post it. I couldn’t find any.

  13. morris brown
    Aug 12th, 2013 at 16:35
    #13

    LA Times OP:ED Why California’s ‘shovel ready’ train isn’t

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-california-bullet-train-delays-20130812,0,3537563.story

    Mike Reply:

    Here’s a fun game Morris. Can you find a citation in which President Obama, or California’s Governor, or the head of CHSRA said that HSR was “shovel ready” at the time of the stimulus program? Or, to make it easier, said it at any point?

    Resident Reply:

    Why would he waste his time with that? Obama clearly admits that the administration oversold and misused the whole concept of “shovel ready” when they were stumping for the stimulus.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2009/12/obamas-economic-speech/

    VBobier Reply:

    Well there is that thing called the 1st amendment of the US Constitution, besides nobody is perfect…

    Mattie F. Reply:

    The stimulus had the ridiculous definition of “shovel-ready”. While I am happy CA-HSR got funding, the simulus really should have been about “how many public-works jobs can we create within the next 30 days”, not 5 years later.

    Joey Reply:

    Now, freeways — those we’re good at.

    Funny thing. Building a high speed (or other) railway is basically the same as building a freeway, the only difference is that there is gravel and tracks on top rather than asphalt.

  14. Reality Check
    Aug 12th, 2013 at 22:04
    #14

    Brazil delays high-speed train bids for at least a year

    Lack of competition led the government to postpone the tender for the bullet train linking Brazil’s two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, after Spanish and German groups guaranteed that they will bid if given more time, Borges said at a news conference.

    [...]

    Officials said only one group led by France’s Alstom SA and including state-owned railway company SNCF Group was ready to present their bid by Friday’s deadline.

    [...]

    Brazil hopes Japanese and South Korea companies that had shown interest but dropped out will now present bids, Figueiredo said. Those companies include South Korea’s Hyundai Corp and Japan’s Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

    The Spanish consortium formed by state train operator Renfe and high speed train maker Talgo, once considered the favourite to win the Brazilian contract, last week asked for a postponement to have time to redo its bid.

    The Spanish group sought and got guarantees from Brazil that it would not be excluded from the bidding because of the train crash that killed 79 people in Galicia last month.

    Spanish officials told the Brazilian government that the worst rail disaster in Spain’s history did not involve a train that was running on a high-speed system.

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