NEPA Assignment MOU
California Governor Gavin Newsom and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Ronald Batory have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), by which the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) has been assigned FRA’s responsibilities as lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Pursuant to Section 327 of Title 23 of the United States Code, effective July 23, 2019 the MOU is authorized under the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program, otherwise known as NEPA Assignment.
The NEPA Assignment MOU provides that the FRA assigns, and the State assumes, environmental review responsibilities under NEPA and other federal environmental laws with respect to projects in California’s High-Speed Rail system and projects that directly connect to stations on the high-speed rail system, which include the Link Union Station and West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor projects in Los Angeles. The MOU also includes the ACEforward project in the Altamont Corridor Express system. These federal responsibilities will be performed by the High-Speed Rail Authority, with oversight by the California State Transportation Agency.
In performing the requirements specified in the NEPA Assignment MOU, the Authority must comply with all federal laws and regulations applicable to FRA’s work on the program. Although six other states have executed NEPA Assignment MOUs for highway projects, California is the only state to have executed NEPA Assignment MOUs for both highway and rail projects. Since 2007, Caltrans has performed as NEPA lead agency for highway projects and achieved significant time savings. Now, the Authority will be able to accelerate project delivery while protecting the environment, by conducting more efficient environmental reviews and approvals of the environmental documents required to advance the High-Speed Rail Program.
- Letter from CEO Kelly to Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Ronald L. Batory thanking Administrator Batory and the FRA for NEPA Assignment, and pledging to continue to work closely with the FRA to deliver high-speed rail in California – July 31, 2019