Tomorrow morning, the Supreme Court will file its opinion in Friends of the Eel River v. North Coast Railroad Authority, which was argued on the early-May calendar. (Briefs here; oral argument video here.)
Eel River is the last undecided case of the three “environmental law week” matters. (Opinions in the other two were filed two and three weeks ago.) A law professor has identified the case as one that might end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. That could explain the large number of amicus briefs the case has attracted.
Eel River raises these issues: (1) Does the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act [ICCTA] (49 U.S.C. § 10101 et seq.) preempt the application of the California Environmental Quality Act [CEQA] (Pub. Res. Code, § 21050 et seq.) to a state agency’s proprietary acts with respect to a state-owned and funded rail line or is CEQA not preempted in such circumstances under the market participant doctrine (see Town of Atherton v. California High Speed Rail Authority (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 314)? (2) Does the ICCTA preempt a state agency’s voluntary commitments to comply with CEQA as a condition of receiving state funds for a state-owned rail line and/or leasing state-owned property?
The opinion can be viewed tomorrow starting at 10:00 a.m.