Two new STB commissioners are officially confirmed by the U.S. Senate

Earlier this week, the United States Senate voted to confirm two new Commissioners to the Surface Transportation Board (STB), an independent adjudicatory and economic-regulatory agency charged by Congress with resolving railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers.

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Earlier this week, the United States Senate voted to confirm two new Commissioners to the Surface Transportation Board (STB), an independent adjudicatory and economic-regulatory agency charged by Congress with resolving railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers. 

The new Commissioners are Patrick Fuchs, senior professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Martin Oberman, a Chicago-based attorney and former chairman of the board of directors for Metra.

Fuchs and Oberman were nominated by the White House for these positions last year.

In December, the Rail Customer Coalition (RCC), a large coalition of trade associations representing the manufacturing, energy, and agricultural industries reliant on railroads, penned a letter to President Trump, calling for the “urgent need” to fully staff the STB.

“A fully-staffed STB is essential to achieving freight rail policy reforms that will streamline overly burdensome regulatory procedures and promote greater competition in the rail sector,” the RCC letter stated. “The STB has been without a functioning complement for almost two years and subsequently American workers and businesses-manufacturers, small businesses, farmers, and energy producers-continue to face increasing costs and a lack of competitive options as the STB is unable to act.”

These confirmations were timely in that the confirmation of these nominees, for unrelated reasons, had stalled and run the risk they would be unconfirmed at the end of the 115th Congress, which was the case, but was quickly remedied with this week’s vote.

What’s more, the RCC letter added that the term and holdover year of STB Vice Chairman Deb Miller was set to expire at the end of 2018 and would have left the STB with just one of five Board members had Fuchs and Oberman not been confirmed.

These confirmations received a strong endorsement from Ian Jeffries, President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

“The freight railroad industry congratulates the new STB Commissioners on their well-deserved confirmation,” Jeffries said in a statement. “As Congress helps the Board get closer to a full complement of five members, we believe that the agency is now one step closer to realizing its Congressional charter to maintain a proven economic framework that allows the industry to earn the revenues it needs to serve a vast set of customers, while providing appropriate regulatory protections for these same rail shippers. We are confident that these new STB Commissioners will govern sensibly and be driven by sound economic principles. We hope that after careful review of pending proposals that the Board forgoes measures that limit the rail industry’s ability to invest for the future. The AAR and its members look forward to robust and transparent dialogue with the STB.”


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Railroad Shipping · STB · All Topics
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