An out-of-nowhere proposal from a shadowy company to take over a defunct railway through Northern California’s coastal mountains has raised suspicions that Western coal companies are engineering a backdoor pathway for exporting coal to Asia.
California has been seeking permission from federal rail regulators to decommission much of the 320-mile rail network, connecting the San Francisco Bay with the port at Humboldt Bay, and repurpose it as the Great Redwood Trail.

That plan is now in jeopardy after lawyers for the mystery company filed papers on Aug. 16 with the federal Surface Transportation Board, objecting to California’s plans to transform the North Coast Railroad to a trail. State Sen. Mike McGuire, a champion for the trail project, now alleges Western coal operators, including Utah producers, are behind the move.

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