Trump Looks to Recover $1B Federal Grant for California Train Project

Trump administration to cancel $929 million in California high-speed rail funding

California Governor Gavin Newsom said last week the state will dramatically scale back a planned $77.3 billion high-speed rail project that has faced cost hikes, delays and management concerns, but will finish a smaller section of the line.

It's the latest in a series of attacks by President Trump against officials of the state - which along with 15 other states just filed a lawsuit against the president's use of a national emergency declaration to build a U.S. -Mexico border wall.

In a statement Tuesday, Newsom said, "It's no coincidence that the administration's threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the president's farcical 'national emergency.' The president even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning". "This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won't sit idly by". "This is California's money, and we are going to fight for it".

Maria Salinas, head of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, told Xinhua that while the Chamber appreciates the governor's commitment to not wasting public resources already spent on the project, it is concerned that the scale of his rail "is not adequate to meet the needs of a growing, geographically diverse state".

The Trump administration said Tuesday that it's canceling $929 million of federal funding for California's high-speed rail project and demanding the return of $2.6 billion that's already been spent.

Originally planned as a 850-km rail system linking San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, California's bullet train is years behind schedule and, according to the state audit report, 600 million US dollars over-budget.

Trump's comments about a "failed" project followed Newsom's comments last week that the current plan for an LA-San Francisco train would cost too much and take too long.

The letter also referenced Newsom's speech announcing the scaling back of the plan, which Batory said represents a "significant retreat from the state's initial vision" to build a system that connects the state's northern and southern regions. Jerry Brown appointed to chair the high-speed rail program - resigned yesterday, the Times reported. "Send the Federal Government back the Billions of Dollars WASTED!" Construction of the rest of the track was postponed indefinitely.

The Democratic governor did so days after the national Democratic leadership released their "Green New Deal" to dramatically cut USA carbon emissions, including an extensive high-speed rail network expected to replace intrastate, short-haul flights and long-haul auto trips.

The president also said that, besides allegedly wasting federal money, the state improperly changed the terms under which it received the federal government's funding.

"By focusing on a single working leg, Newsom can show people the potential - building enthusiasm that could foster other projects around the country".

The letter specifically cited Newsom's announcement, saying that decision to significantly scale down the project "frustrates the objective for which Federal funding was awarded".

UC Berkeley lecturer in city and regional planning Peter Albert, who supports Newsom's decision, compared the cost of the high-speed railway to the BART system.

"Right now there simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.", he said.

On Twitter over the last week, President Trump has repeatedly lambasted the project.

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