FEDERAL FILINGS REVEAL JAPANESE-FUNDED RAILROAD CONSORTIUM PLANS EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE AND NEAR WHOLESALE EXEMPTION FROM FEDERAL RULES
TCR Proposes to Acquire Land it Ultimately Won’t Use to Satisfy Investors
Jewett, Texas – Texas Central Railway (TCR), Central Japan Railway’s main US partner for the proposed Texas rail line, submitted two petitions on April 19 with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) – the independent federal commission charged by Congress to oversee railroads nationwide. These filings raise serious questions about the rail company’s commitment to transparency and the rule of law.
The filings, made available by the STB, reveal that Texas Central is requesting an exemption from 49 U.S.C § 10901, which governs the authority to construct and operate a railroad in the United States. In a second filing, Texas Central is seeking a “clarification” that its project will be exempt from SB 18, the Texas landmark law limiting Eminent Domain abuse.
The filings further reveal that the consortium plans to take land from Texas private property owners “in locations not ultimately identified” on its final route because “its construction schedule is central to its business model.”
Blake Beckham, special litigation counsel for TAHSR, said, “In other words, Texas Central has no problem taking private property it does not even need for its project so long as the steady stream of funds from its Japanese partners keep flowing in. This is a clear concession that Texas Central does not have its financing in place, and yet it is asking for expedited consideration of its petitions in hopes that it can begin taking private property from Texas landowners immediately.”
Kyle Workman, president of TAHSR, said, “The people of Texas fought long and hard to protect our property rights after the Kelo decision. Governor Perry and the Texas legislature worked together to enact SB18 specifically to provide Texans with protections against the abuse of Eminent Domain for private gain. TCR’s filing is an attempted end run around Texas law.”
Workman added, “Brazen doesn’t come close to describing these petitions. If they are granted, TCR could confiscate the property of landowners – even those not in the pathway of the track – as well as be exempt from most federal requirements for railroad construction. That’s a lose-lose situation for Texas landowners.”
“Notably absent from the petitions is any mention of the fact that this project will be funded almost entirely through government-backed loans and Japanese investors,” Workman concluded.