Just like we thought, Texas Central is trying to get out of the August 4 hearing in Leon County. They scheduled hearings for August 3 in Travis County and August 5 in Harris County against unrepresented landowners, but told the Court in Leon County they had a “conflict” on August 4. They don’t want to fight us. They’d rather sue landowners who don’t have attorneys. Here is the letter we sent asking the Court to set a date so they can’t wiggle out of it:
Last week, we sent out a press release with statements from TAHSR leadership about the victory in DC when the Surface Transportation Board declined to take jurisdiction over the Dallas Houston HSR. With their project in serious jeopardy, Texas Central took it upon themselves to “Set the Record Straight” and pick apart our statement to retain any shred of hope for their project. Based on the factually incorrect statements from Texas Central about our statement, we’ve decided to “Set the Record Straighter.” And given their recent testimony that they don’t own any trains and don’t have the money to buy any trains, we went ahead and just crossed off “train” anywhere on their document…no need to confuse anyone that they are an actual railroad with actual trains.
Click the image below to open a full-sized pdf version.
MAJOR OPPOSITION VICTORY WITH FEDERAL LEVEL SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD RULING
Surface Transportation Board Agrees with TAHSR, Dallas Houston HSR a State Issue & “Too Speculative and Undefined”
Jewett, Texas – Texans Against High-Speed Rail (TAHSR) delivered a major blow to Texas Central’s heavily promoted Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail. In a very significant decision, the Surface Transportation Board (“Board”) ruled that it lacks federal jurisdiction over the proposed project. The Board also denied Texas Central’s exemption proceeding and denied its related Petition for Clarification as moot. With the federal government’s ruling that it will not oversee this ill-advised project, Texas Central will now have to come back to Texas to get approval to build its high-speed rail. “This is a huge victory for private property rights in Texas and TAHSR. This was clearly a state issue; everyone knew it was an intrastate line, and now we have confirmation. From our point of view, the best place for the citizens of Texas to be heard is the State Capitol,” said Kyle Workman, President of TAHSR.
In its decision, the Board sided with TAHSR’s legal argument that Texas Central’s project would not be part of the interstate rail network. This should have been obvious to Texas Central, given that its “closed system” – a 240-mile-long wall across east Texas – would not extend beyond Dallas or Houston. The Board ruled that Texas Central’s “plans are too speculative and undefined to make this intrastate line part of the interstate rail network based on the information in the petition.” Texas landowners know all too well how “speculative and undefined” this project truly is.
This decision makes clear that Texas Central has no approval to construct its high-speed rail, which TAHSR has proven will be a financial and environmental disaster, and politically toxic for anyone who supports it. Blake Beckham of The Beckham Group, Special Litigation Counsel for TAHSR, said, “We proved in great detail why Texas Central’s ridership projections are complete fantasy, and that its project has no chance of succeeding financially. This project, if it ever gets built, will be a financial disaster, a horrific burden on taxpayers. We keep asking Texas Central to show us why we are wrong, but Texas Central continues to remain silent and hide information from the public. Texas Central’s PR team continues spouting how great this project will be, all the while refusing to show the public a shred of evidence to back any of it up. Well, we aren’t falling for it, and neither are Texas landowners. The truth is Texas Central is broke and under-capitalized.”
As it stands, not only has Texas Central been denied approval to construct, it has not yet established itself as a “railroad” with eminent domain authority in Texas. Amazingly, recent sworn testimony from a Texas Central representative revealed that Texas Central does not even have the money to buy the land it needs for the project, or even buy one train. Texas Central also admitted that it does not have sufficient financing in place for construction. Despite these undisputed facts, Texas Central continues to bully and sue landowners across Texas in an attempt to enter private property, knowing full well it does not have that legal right. Beckham, who is also representing many landowners along the affected corridor, added, “For a company that preaches fairness to landowners and respect for private property rights, Texas Central’s actions certainly speak louder than its words.”
What is next for Texas Central? Hire several more executives who can influence policy in Houston and Dallas…why? Is Houston on the cusp of subsidizing the last 7 miles?
TAHSR President Kyle Workman said, “We owe a great deal of thanks to our members, whose donations and support have made this victory possible. Over 3,000 concerned Texans signed opposition statements, which sent a strong message to the Board that Texans are fully prepared to fight to protect their land.” Workman also extended thanks to attorneys Blake Beckham and Patrick McShan in Dallas, and Richard Streeter in Washington, DC, for their legal work and tireless efforts resulting in this victory.
Judge Ben Leman, Chairman of TAHSR, spoke of the efforts made by elected officials in opposing the project. “We would like to thank Congressmen Kevin Brady for voicing his opposition to the project as well as the other U.S. Representatives who set aside time to meet with me and Mr. Beckham during our recent visit to Washington DC. We agree with Congressman Brady that this is the answer that Texans fought for. We would also like to thank the many Texas Senators and Representatives who stood up for their constituents in fighting Texas Central. Finally, we would like to thank the County Judges and Commissioners from Ellis, Grimes, Leon, Waller, Madison, Navarro, Limestone, and Freestone Counties for voicing their opposition.”
This is an example of how powerful and effective our opposition can be when we combine our efforts in working toward this common goal. We hope this victory sends a strong message to Texas Central and its Japanese partners. We stand together ready to continue this fight. We aren’t going anywhere. We can, and we will, stop this train.
On June 20, we told Texas Central’s attorneys we were ready to have a hearing to let a court decide whether Texas Central is a railroad with eminent domain authority. Instead of taking us up on our offer, Texas Central filed new lawsuits and sent out hundreds of letters threatening even more lawsuits.
We’ve had enough. Today, Jim Miles filed a request for a hearing in Leon County on Texas Central’s request for an injunction. This was the first case on file, and it is also the case where Texas Central’s representative gave extremely evasive and damaging testimony. Even though this case should be the first to have a hearing, it’s no surprise that Texas Central is trying to stall.
The hearing is set for Thursday, August 4th at 10:00 a.m. Let’s see if Texas Central agrees to a fair fight, or tries to get out of it so they can continue their charade of “being a railroad.”
Here is the letter we sent to Texas Central’s attorneys:
After we filed our reply before the Surface Transportation Board, Texas Central filed a “reply to a reply” in violation of the rules. Texas Central claims there is “good cause” for them to break the rules because they “could not have anticipated” that we were going to show the Board what a disaster this project will be. In truth, Texas Central simply underestimated their opponent.
To make matters worse, Texas Central redacted their new arguments and filed evidence under seal. For obvious reasons, this is unfair, so we called them out on it. Let’s hope the Board does their job and enforces the rules.
Here is a link to our filing: