Issue Date: June 8, 2009
Senators Plan Broad Rail Policy Reforms
Two Democratic senators have agreed to draft legislation designed to make the freight railroad industry more competitive and address chemical shippers' concerns about unfair rates. "We hope to shortly have a bipartisan package that reforms the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and repeals the railroads' antitrust exemption available for consideration by the full Senate," Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chair of the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) chair of the Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, said in a joint statement. The Senate had been scheduled to vote on June 2 on a narrow bill (S. 146) to strip the railroads of exemptions from antitrust laws, which shippers of chemicals and other bulk commodities argue have allowed the railroad industry to consolidate into regional monopolies that charge high rates and provide poor service. But the vote was put off when the senators agreed to craft a broader measure.
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