Thursday, October 08, 2009

STB moves to “demystify" proceedings

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Explaining that it seeks "another way to demystify the process," the Surface Transportation Board will begin holding public oral arguments in major cases.

"Hearing from parties directly and having the opportunity to ask them questions will help us make better decisions," said STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III.

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The oral arguments will give parties an opportunity to directly address the board. The format will be similar to oral arguments in federal appellate courts, allowing board members to ask questions before making a decision. While the proceedings will be open to the public, only counsel for the parties will be allowed to present argument.

Elliott also plans to overhaul the Board's website, www.stb.dot.gov, to make more information more readily available to stakeholders and the public. "We are doing the public's business and the public should be able to quickly and easily learn what we are doing," Elliott said.

The first scheduled oral argument will be on Oct. 27, in the case of Entergy Arkansas, Inc. and Entergy Services, Inc. v. Union Pacific Railroad Company and Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad Company, Inc., STB Docket No. 42104 and DesertXpress Enterprises, LLC—Petition for Declaratory Order, STB Finance Docket No. 34914.

The Board has also scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 23, but a list of cases to be argued then has not been finalized.