Rail coalition urges Trump to fill STB vacancies

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WASHINGTON — Some 70 members of the Rail Customer Coalition are urging President Donald Trump to fill the vacancies on the Surface Transportation Board.

“We need a fully-staffed STB committed to moving forward on freight rail policy reforms that will streamline overly burdensome regulatory procedures and promote greater competition in the rail sector,” the coalition members wrote in a Jan. 16 letter to the President.

Congress passed the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act in December 2015. It established the STB as an independent agency, and increased the size of the board from three to five members.

The board currently has two members, Acting Chairman Ann D. Begeman, and Vice Chairman Deb Miller. Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III left last September.

Begeman, a Republican, has not been confirmed as chairman. Miller is a Democrat. The law requires the STB to be bi-partisan, so the President would be expected to fill vacancies with two Republicans and a Democrat.

The shipper coalition letter notes that the STB plays a critical role in rail rate and service issues, particularly when a shipper has access to a single carrier. The letter also notes the regulatory reforms that the board has undertaken.

“Unfortunately, with only two of the five STB positions filled and no permanent Chair, progress on many of these overdue regulatory reforms has stalled,” the letter says. “In order to regain momentum and support U.S. businesses, we must be sure that the STB is fully staffed … It is imperative both for railroads and for their customers to have confidence that the STB is a fair and unbiased arbiter of disputes.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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