Issue Date: March 3, 2008
Shippers Seek Stiffer Rail Antitrust Standards
Shippers of chemicals and other bulk commodities told the House Judiciary Committee last week that the railroad industry's exemptions from federal antitrust laws have allowed freight carriers to wield significant monopoly power, resulting in unreasonably high and arbitrary rates and poor service. Witnesses urged lawmakers to approve a bill (H.R. 1650) sponsored by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) that would remove the exemptions, allow the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to review proposed rail mergers, and enable states and private parties to sue for damages. "This legislation will bring the railroads into the real world and provide the same kind of free-market checks and balances that apply to virtually every other industry," says Jack N. Gerard, president of the American Chemistry Council. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a similar bill (S. 772) last year. The railroad industry strongly opposes the legislation and contends that it is generally subject to the antitrust statutes, with only a few narrow exemptions.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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