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California sues Trump administration over canceled high-speed rail money

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“The decision was precipitated by President Trump’s overt hostility to California,” the state said in the lawsuit

State Environmental Laws Threaten To Slow CA High Speed Rail Project
Construction of San Joaquin River Viaduct that will carry the high-speed rail in Fresno.
Photo by California High-Speed Rail Authority via Getty Images

California filed suit against the federal government Tuesday over attempts to cancel nearly $1 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail—an escalation of the ongoing railroad row between the Golden State and the Trump administration.

“The decision was precipitated by President Trump’s overt hostility to California, its challenge to his border wall initiatives, and what he called the ‘green disaster’ high-speed rail project,” according to the complaint, which calls the funding spat “capricious.”

Last week, the Federal Railroad Authority (FRA), a branch of the Department of Transportation, made good on threats to revoke $929 million in funding for the bullet train under construction in the Central Valley, which the state says will one day connect San Francisco to Los Angeles.

FRA administrator Robert Batory alleges that the California High-Speed Rail Authority can’t meet the deadlines in the original funding agreement and accused Gov. Gavin Newsom of effectively canceling the full project.

The suit, which was filed in the United States District Court Northern District of California, accuses the FRA of prosecuting a political agenda in reprisal for the state’s court actions against the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies.

In February, Trump used Twitter to call the high-speed rail project a “green disaster,” criticize the state’s spending and allege that California has canceled the LA-to-SF route. (Which the governor denies.)

The Associated Press notes that the current high-speed rail plan does not call for the state to start spending the contentious $929 million-plus until 2021.

California plans to ask the judge to issue an order freezing the disputed funds so that they can’t be spent elsewhere until the suit resolves.