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VI Meets with STB Board Members
Vinyl Institute representatives met in Washington, DC with all three members of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) last month to underscore the importance of aggressive implementation of STB reform. S. 808 was signed into law last year to reform the STB and expedite rate dispute cases to better respond to shipper concerns, among other provisions.
Board Chairman Dan Elliot and members Ann Begeman and Deb Miller were generally supportive of our industry’s key points, particularly the cumbersome process of rate review cases, and committed to implementing the law in a timely manner.
Chairman Elliott has sent a letter earlier this year to Senate leadership underscoring his commitment to STB Reform and providing a bill implementation schedule. “Rail industry stakeholders have waited 20 years for the Board to be reauthorized,” Elliott said. “There is no doubt that freight rail transportation will benefit from the thoughtful provisions of this law. Behind this reauthorization is a message of transparency and increased efficiency. That is what I will deliver to the public.”
VI has also been meeting with members of the House Appropriations Committee to ensure the STB has the resources to meet is statutory obligations as outlined in S. 808, including adding two more members to the Board. VI will continue working with our coalition partners to ensure the proper and expeditious implementation of STB reform.
The Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015 provides a number of benefits to the vinyl industry:
- Expands the STB’s membership from three to five Board Members.
- Allows a majority of STB Board Members to meet in private to discuss agency matters, subject to certain rules and procedures;
- Gives the STB authority to investigate issues of national or regional significance and requires the Board to establish regulations governing such investigations;
- Directs the STB to modify its voluntary arbitration process, including increases in the maximum damage awards;
- Shortens timelines applicable to large rate case proceedings, including time limits for discovery and development of the evidentiary record;
- Directs the Comptroller General of the United States (the head of the United States General Accountability Office) to begin a study of rail transportation contract proposals containing multiple origin-to-destination movements;
- Requires STB preparation and publication of a rate case methodology report and various other reports.