Senate Approves Bill To Reform Rail Policy | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 93 Issue 26 | p. 19 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 29, 2015

Senate Approves Bill To Reform Rail Policy

Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: freight, rail, rates, service disputes, Surface Transportation Board

Chemical manufacturers are welcoming recent Senate approval of legislation that would overhaul U.S. freight rail policy. The bill (S. 808) would reform operations at the Surface Transportation Board (STB), a small federal agency that resolves rate and service disputes between freight railroads and their customers—companies that ship chemicals, grain, coal, and other bulk commodities. The legislation seeks to make STB more responsive to the needs of shippers, which have long complained that the current process for challenging the fairness of a rate can cost up to $3 million and take three years to complete. The bill would streamline STB’s “overly burdensome rate review process” and allow the board to be more proactive in resolving freight rail issues, says Calvin M. Dooley, chief executive officer of the American Chemistry Council, a chemical trade association. The measure would empower STB to initiate investigations into rail service problems, not just respond to complaints. It would also set timelines for rate reviews. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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