Friday, September 17, 2010

Association of American Railroads v. South Coast Air Quality Mgmt.

Sep 16: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 07-55804. The Appeals Court explains that an array of Federal, state, and local laws governs the operation of railroads, including laws that regulate the effect of the railroad industry on the environment. In this case, a local governmental agency enacted rules aimed at limiting the air pollution created by idling trains. Several entities within the railroad industry filed suit. After a bench trial, the district court held that Federal law preempts the local rules.
    The Railroads contend that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (ICCTA), Pub. L. No. 104-88, 109 Stat. 803, a Federal act that substantially deregulated the railroad industry, preempts the South Coast Air Quality Management District rules. On review, the Appeals Court cited Davis v. Yageo Corp., 481 F.3d 661, 673 (9th Cir. 2007); J & G Sales Ltd. v. Truscott, 473 F.3d 1043, 1047 (9th Cir. 2007), and affirmed the decision of the district court.
    The Appeals Court ruled in part, "Because the District's rules have the force and effect of state law, ICCTA preempts those rules unless they are rules of general applicability that do not unreasonably burden railroad activity. The District's rules plainly cannot meet that test. The rules apply exclusively and directly to railroad activity, requiring the railroads to reduce emissions and to provide, under threat of penalties, specific reports on its emissions and inventory. Because ICCTA 'preempts all state laws that may reasonably be said to have the effect of managing or governing rail transportation,' N.Y. Susquehanna, 500 F.3d at 252 (internal quotation marks omitted), ICCTA preempts the District's rules here."
    Access the complete opinion (click here).

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