The railroad industry told the Surface Transportation Board that it should postpone moving forward on major rail policies until President-Elect Trump takes office.
“The policy landscape in Washington, D.C. dramatically shifted on Election Day, and as such, the freight rail industry believes the STB should suspend its misguided quest to reregulate freight rail,” said Edward R. Hamberger, president of the Association of American Railroads.
In 2015 Congress passed rail reform legislation that also expanded the board from three to five members. Combined with a seat that will become vacant soon, President Trump will be able to nominate three new members who must then be approved by the Senate.
“The bottom line is that great uncertainty is looming not just over the freight rail industry, but the entire economy,” Hamberger said. “Now is not the time for regulators to jam through rules and inject even more government-induced uncertainty.”
AAR is fighting proposals STB proposals that would allow reciprocal shipping and rail rate reforms favored by shippers (AA, 11-15-16, P. 1).
In a statement issued the week following the election, the Rail Customer Coalition urged the board to continue pushing forward on reforms it said were already authorized by Congress.
“Moving away from the STB’s outdated protections for the railroads and obstacles to commerce is not only legal, it is smart,” the coalition said. “It’s time for the STB to remove regulatory barriers and put competition back on the tracks.”
Hamberger said, “Our industry has made it clear that rules should protect a true free market, and that no agency can spur ‘competition’ through regulation.”