Supremes Court ruling- Fla Gov Scott had authority to axe hi-speed rail, train likely dead


Two senators who challenged Fla Gov. Rick Scott’s authority to kill a high speed rail project failed to make their case, the Florida  Supreme Court ruled today.

Scott reiterated his rejection of $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds for the project this morning in a telephone call with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, likely meaning the money will go to other states.

“The Governor is gratified that the court provided a clear and unanimous decision, he is now focused on moving forward with infrastructure projects that create long-term jobs and turn Florida’s economy around. He also spoke with US DOT Secretary LaHood this morning and informed him that Florida will focus on other infrastructure projects and will not move forward with any federal high speed rail plan,” Scott’s spokesman Brian Burgess said in a statement.

Sens. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, and Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, sued Scott for rejecting $2.4 billion in federal funds for the Tampa-to-Orlando project. They argued he violated the constitutional separation of powers by effectively overriding the legislature’s order that the the state create the high-speed rail system.

The court, which heard oral arguments on the fast-tracked case yesterday, rejected their argument in a one-paragraph unanimous ruling issued this morning.

“Based on the limited record before the Court and a review of the federal and state law relied on by the parties, the Court has determined that the petitioners have not clearly demonstrated entitlement to quo warranto, mandamus, or any other relief. Accordingly, the emergency petition is hereby denied,” the judges ordered.

Copyright (c) March 4, 2011. All rights reserved.

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CG Adm Thad Allen and Bureau of OEM support an independent drilling regulatory agency.


The hearing of the U.S. House Coast Guard and maritime transportation subcommittee came as news surfaced that the Obama administration may oppose a commission recommendation to create an independent regulatory agency because it could clash with reforms already being undertaken by the Interior Department.

If reports from an independent regulatory agency clashes with the government agencies, that is a GOOD thing. Do we not remember how MMS (Minerals and Management Services) were partially to blame for the lack of safety measures and protocol for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill?

It is imperative that we have an independent agency doublechecking the work of our government. It has been proven that the government oversight needs independent oversight. Too shun this idea is a slap in the face to the Gulf States and families of the oil rig victims.

After the April 20 accident, the Interior Department separated its regulatory arm from the royalty collection division reasoning that there could be a conflict of interest between the two operations. That came to no surprise to anyone closely following the MMS or the Interior Department and was actually a much needed relief.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement replaced the Minerals Management Service in the department as the industry regulator. The commission recommended that a new independent agency be formed to monitor regulation.

The seven-member panel wants an agency similar to how the FBI operates independently of the Justice Department, including having a director who is appointed for a time period in order to avoid any political interference.

Commission member Donald Boesch told the subcommittee the independent agency recommendation should be implemented.

Boesch also testified that the oil industry should pay for any step-up of industry enforcement. In response to subcommittee questions, Boesch said the commission recommendations would cost the oil industry from seven to 12 cents per barrel.

The tax would amount to a quarter of a cent increase on a gallon of gas and boost the regulation needed to police the industry.

A price that I, personally, would be willing to pay in order to avoid another explosion and catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

I urge an Independent Commission to commence and oversee the operations of oil drilling and environment affairs. There is simply too much to stake to leave it in the hands of the Federal Government.

Copyright (c) February 16, 2011. All rights reserved.