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The Brown administration is abandoning legislation it proposed to insulate California's high-speed rail project from environmental lawsuits, the administration told environmentalists today.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who is seeking legislative approval this summer to start construction on the $68 billion project, angered environmentalists when his administration proposed this month to limit the circumstances in which a court could block construction of the project under the landmark California Environmental Quality Act.

Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, said a Brown adviser sent environmentalists and transportation advocates an e-mail today indicating the Democratic governor was backing off.

Phillips said the administration suggested it could revisit the proposal later.

"They're not interested for now," Phillips said. "So I feel like I can sleep well tonight, and there will be another day when we will have to struggle with how we can ensure that we protect environmental quality."

Brown's office declined to comment. The California High-Speed Rail Authority did not immediately return calls for comment.


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