The Surface Transportation Board (STB) is holding a virtual conference Dec. 18 to address a new approach for considering class exemption and revocation issues.
The proposed approach would help STB “evaluate market conditions using a variety of metrics related to or indicative of rail transportation competition.”
The approach focuses on:
• “Developing a snapshot of the current state of a commodity’s rail transportation market.
• “Identifying changes in market conditions.
• “Considering certain potential influences from alternative transportation modes that could impact that market.”
It was developed by the STB’s Office of Economics following feedback on a 2016 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking “to revoke the existing class exemptions under 49 C.F.R. part 1039 for (1) crushed or broken stone or rip rap; (2) hydraulic cement; (3) coke produced from coal; (4) primary iron or steel products; and (5) iron or steel scrap, wastes, or tailings.”
In September, STB invited public comment on the approach; comments were due Dec. 4.
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STB noted that the approach has limitations and would not “necessarily provide a final conclusive answer on whether the commodity exemptions at issue should be revoked, or whether additional commodity exemptions should be adopted.”
STB added: “Most fundamentally, the approach does not seek to answer the ultimate qualitative question of whether a commodity’s regulation is necessary to carry out the RTP [Rail Transportation Policy].”