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California state and high-speed rail officials yesterday unveiled a plan to assume federal environmental responsibilities for the state's high-speed rail project. The move is aimed at streamlining reviews and approvals of the environmental documents needed to advanced the high-speed rail program and related rail projects, California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHRSA) officials said in a press release.CHSRA and the California State Transportation Agency prepared the draft of an application to assume the responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal environmental laws. The application would be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration. The state would assume environmental responsibilities for the system's first phase between San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as the second phase to extend service to Sacramento and San Diego. CHSRA would manage NEPA and California Environmental Quality Act document preparation for both phases. This could help find "efficiencies where possible to complete the process faster without diminishing the rigor of the environmental analysis or the opportunities for the public to meaningfully engage with the program," CHSRA officials said.The authority will accept written comments on its application through Dec. 11.
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