Earlier today we heard from the perspective of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC). Here, in press release form, is Caltrans’ take:
Caltrans has voluntarily withdrawn its Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), part of its federal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) documentation pertaining to the Richardson Grove Improvement Project. Based on this, the State of California filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), as it would be an unnecessary expenditure of judicial, attorney, and public resources for plaintiffs to pursue the federal litigation when further environmental review due to the state court writ may affect the federal environmental document and/or determinations.
Caltrans made its decision to withdraw its FONSI on November 17, following the October 21 entry of the state court writ. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the action after Caltrans informed them of this decision and after being served with Caltrans’ motion to dismiss.
Caltrans is conducting further environmental review to comply with the State court order. If that review affects existing or previous environmental determinations, they will be addressed accordingly.
Caltrans conducted a thorough and comprehensive environmental analysis of the project, which the State Appellate Court upheld except as to certain aspects of the redwood tree root impact analysis. Caltrans is taking appropriate actions to comply with the Appellate Court decision and resulting Superior Court Writ.
The Richardson Grove Improvement Project was designed to be environmentally protective, with emphasis on the protection of old growth redwood trees and their root systems. Caltrans thoroughly and systematically examined the potential effects of the project on individual old growth redwood trees in the project area. No old growth redwood trees will be removed for the project.