Fort Worth, TEXAS – On March 30, the court ruled in the trial related to the environmental analysis for the proposed Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) project, an intermodal rail facility near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that would have eliminated millions of truck miles from the 710 Freeway each year.
Steve Bobb, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said, “After a thorough review of the ruling, BNSF is troubled by what the decision represents and uncertain whether moving forward with the project is feasible at this time. We will confer with Port of Los Angeles officials, but it is not clear whether or how the project could be built under the framework set by the decision.”
While this ruling is disappointing for BNSF and the Port of Los Angeles, it is a major loss for both ports, the local community and the region. The ports miss the opportunity to have a green, efficient facility that serves their customers and bolsters their competitiveness, while the community and broader region won’t benefit from the traffic reductions, air quality improvements and good jobs SCIG would have brought. It’s notable that this ruling came just before California’s legislature voted to enact the highest minimum wage in the country, since SCIG would provide family-wage jobs with a solid career path.
"It sets a chilling precedent for not only the rail industry, but the entire goods movement sector, which employs more than a million Californians.
“With this decision, California sends a clear signal to companies interested in investing in the state that their business isn’t welcome, regardless of how green it will be or how it will support the regional and state economy,” said Bobb. “It sets a chilling precedent for not only the rail industry, but the entire goods movement sector, which employs more than a million Californians.”
The eight-year long environmental review was exhaustive, with a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), Recirculated Draft EIR and Final EIR totaling more than 5,000 pages and an administrative record of more than 200,000 pages. As the court acknowledged in its ruling, “the EIR is an impressive piece of work. It is clear that a great deal of careful thought has been given to the environmental impacts of the project.”
BNSF was ready to invest $500 million in the regional economy with this facility, going well beyond legal requirements, including $100 million in green technologies such as electric cranes, ultra-low emission locomotives and solar energy. The company also made significant changes to the project’s design and operations in direct response to community feedback. In addition, BNSF committed to allow only clean trucks on designated industrial routes with GPS tracking, support for zero or near-zero emissions technologies, a soundwall, intensive landscaping, a local jobs training program and priority hiring for new jobs to qualified local job applicants.
The Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) would be located on an existing industrial site between the Terminal Island Freeway, Sepulveda Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway with direct access to the Alameda Corridor. Currently, much of the freight transported from the port to other destinations by rail must travel by truck to rail yards near downtown Los Angeles more than 24 miles away. A new intermodal facility within four miles of the ports would allow trucks loaded with cargo containers from ships to travel just a short distance before transferring the containers to rail cars that would then travel through the Alameda Corridor and on to destinations throughout the country.
BNSF Railway is one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies operating on 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states, and also operates in three Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal, and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages. BNSF’s shipments help feed, clothe, supply, and power American homes and businesses every day. BNSF and its employees have developed one of the most technologically advanced, and efficient railroads in the industry. We work continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits we provide to our customers and the communities we serve. You can learn more about BNSF at www.BNSF.com.