Nearly a year ago, a company newly registered in Wyoming set off alarms and political outrage in Northern California with a filing at a federal rail agency.The proposal immediately ran into a wall of fierce opposition ‒ with federal, state and local lawmakers from San Francisco Bay to Eureka all dead set against it.
The federal agency that entertained the idea, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which oversees rail rights of way including the 176 miles of defunct tracks between Willits and Eureka, put the brakes on the project in a procedural ruling earlier this month.
But as the tide goes out on the audacious and costly coal export scheme ‒ a political anathema in climate-concerned Northern California ‒ questions remain about exactly who was behind the North Coast Railroad Co. and whether it ever had the wherewithal to succeed.
But on the heels of the company’s most recent filing in June, Huffman and Thompson, who together represent the North Bay and North Coast in the House, and Padilla, California’s junior senator, accused Wight of submitting a falsified bank statement to the Surface Transportation Board.

“The (document) is not a valid statement from Self-Help Credit Union,” bank spokesperson Jenny Shields wrote in a June 21 email to The Press Democrat.
Justin Wight’s other business ventures also raise questions.
Wight’s bank statement showed financial transactions with two other limited liability companies. One is TerraNova Strategies, and the other is Twin Hawkes Development Corporation. Email addresses and phone numbers for the companies posted online also tie them to Wight.
Wight signed a November 2020 report with the Wyoming Secretary of State for TerraNova. Public information about that company’s work is difficult to come by. Its website states the firm operates in business development, government relations and commercial finance. The company also offered to help clients apply for federal COVID-19 small business loans during the onset of the pandemic.
The website lists offices as far afield as Belgium and New Zealand. No one responded to a Press Democrat request for comment submitted via an online form.

In 2016, the California Department of Real Estate filed a “Desist and Refrain” order against Wight and TerraNova Strategies for operating without a real estate license. Wight and his firm “solicited and negotiated a loan transaction” using a California property as collateral, according to Rick Lopes, a spokesperson for the agency. The type and size of the loan, and the type of property, were not immediately available, Lopes said.

Wight did not respond to a question about the desist and refrain order or about the nature and experience of Twin Hawkes and TerraNova.

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