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.