WATCHING WASHINGTON, AUGUST 2019: The Surface Transportation Board (STB) and other independent regulatory agencies operate as a fourth branch of government, exercising quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers.
Surface Transportation Board
For a sleep inducer, consider working with the Uniform Rail Costing System (URCS), long a general costing system indispensable for determining maximum reasonable rail rates. Worse, its second side-effect is indigestion, as this 30-year-old accounting relic is much like a classic car lacking modern GPS and satellite radio. Practitioners too often become frustrated with its built-in averages from a time when railroads, rather than shippers, owned most of the freight car fleet and line hauls were shorter as the modern merger movement had not yet run its course.
Editor’s Note: RealClear Markets published this editorial by AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies on Aug. 1. With mixed economic signals coming from Washington D.C., Jefferies argues that federal lawmakers must do their part to provide certainty.
WATCHING WASHINGTON, JULY 2019: If paper smothers rock, scissors cut paper and rock smashes scissors, short line railroads, controlling neither the paper nor rock, face a grim outcome in a quest to “cut up” so-called paper barriers erected by Class I railroads and sanctioned by the Surface Transportation Board (STB).
Surface Transportation Board (STB) staff recently released a rate reform report with a series of recommendations. Readers should remember that before any of those recommendations become regulations, the Board must conduct rulemakings. This process could extend beyond 2020 and into the next Administration.
WATCHING WASHINGTON, MAY 2019 – Oh, the contempt that drippeth from a judicial petition of the Western Coal Traffic League (WCTL), whose members ship and receive by rail some 175 million tons of coal annually. It accuses the Surface Transportation Board (STB) of impersonating a regulatory agency by not acting on long-pending rulemakings, and asks a federal court to order the STB to do as its statute instructs—timely decide cases brought before it.
The Surface Transportation Board Rate Reform Task Force has completed a staff report providing its recommendations for “possible changes to the rate review methodologies and processes used by the Board,” STB said.
WATCHING WASHINGTON, APRIL 2019 – Stanley found Livingstone faster than vacancies on the five-member Surface Transportation Board (STB) have been filled, with two remaining more than three years after Congress increased from three the number of Senate-confirmed seats.
Somewhat buried in history is that today’s railroad map is a product of behind-the-scenes actions by former Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Frederick (Fritz) Hollings (D-S.C.), who died April 6 at age 97. He was Commerce Committee Chairman 1987-1995 and 2001-2003, during years Democrats controlled the Senate. He left office in 2005.
Former Surface Transportation Board (STB) member Deb Miller, a Kansas Democrat, has withdrawn her name from contention for renomination by President Trump to a second term.