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Environmental Sustainability

Protecting the Environment

Transportation is responsible for 41% of the state’s greenhouse gases each year.1 Auto usage and congestion are growing throughout the Megaregion. Traffic entering San Francisco has grown by 27% since 2010.2 

Public transportation improvements are at the forefront of President Biden's agenda. The State of California is on the leading edge of a nationwide effort to upgrade and modernize the state’s transportation systems to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by single-occupancy vehicles. 

We’re planning ahead so that all current and future Link21 projects support and comply with federal and state environmental requirements. 

Link21 will advance state and national climate goals and is one of the top-ranked transit projects for regional greenhouse gas reduction. Train travel is a sustainable and green form of transportation and has the potential to reduce vehicle miles traveled by up to 4.8 million per day by 2050.3 

An improved passenger rail network will provide convenient alternatives to driving, improve air quality, and reduce climate-changing pollution caused by cars. 

1California Air Resources Board (CARB), GHG Emission Inventory Graphs, 2018 

2San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), San Francisco Mobility Trend Report 2018, January 2019

3Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Plan Bay Area 2050: Final Blueprint Report, December 2020

Link21 Will Prepare a Full Environmental Analysis

As required by federal and state laws, Link21 will perform a full environmental analysis during later phases of the Program. However, the Link21 Team is planning ahead so that all current and future work supports and complies with the environmental process.   

All Link21 planning activities, alternatives analyses, and stakeholder engagement will be done to identify potential environmental, social, and community impacts and benefits well before the formal environmental process begins.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

NEPA requires federal agencies to consider and disclose the effects of their actions on the quality of the human and natural environment. Because federal funding is anticipated for Link21, the Program will prepare a NEPA-compliant environmental impact statement for proposed projects, which includes analyses of:

  • Environmental impacts and potential benefits of the proposed action
  • Potential mitigations for adverse impacts
  • Adverse impacts that cannot be avoided

Stakeholders, including public agencies, tribal nations, and the public, will be involved in the Link21 NEPA evaluation.  

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

CEQA requires public agencies to regulate activities that may affect the quality of the environment so that major consideration is given to preventing damage to the environment.

CEQA applies to all governmental agencies at all levels in California, including local agencies, regional agencies, state agencies, boards, districts, and commissions. The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (Capitol Corridor) will be the lead agencies for the CEQA process, which may include an environmental impact report identifying potential project alternatives, adverse and beneficial impacts, and possible mitigations if required.