WASHINGTON (August 1, 2018) – The Rail Customer Coalition (RCC) applauds today’s vote by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to approve the nomination of Martin Oberman to serve on the Surface Transportation Board (STB). For more than two years several vacancies on the Board have remained open, which has hampered the STB’s ability to address ongoing freight rail issues and advance regulatory reforms.

The coalition stressed the importance to the economy of filling these open positions and voiced its support of Oberman earlier this year in a letter to President Trump. Mr. Oberman has an impressive track record of resolving complex rail issues and along with his fellow nominees Patrick Fuchs and Michelle Schultz, the RCC believes he will be a good addition to the Board.

In addition to a fully staffed Board, the coalition supports practical regulatory reforms that would allow greater access to competitive freight rail service and that would make the STB operate more efficiently and effectively for all stakeholders.

More than 70 groups belong to the RCC, which represent some of the largest users of freight rail. Coalition members account for more than half of the total volume of cargo shipped by rail and generate more than three quarters of the revenues collected by the railroads.

The following member organizations provided statements regarding today’s important bipartisan vote:

“Americans depend on a fully staffed Surface Transportation Board to ensure that bakers and other manufacturers can remain competitive in the face of ongoing rail and trucking freight challenges. ABA applauds the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee for their diligent work in advancing three qualified candidates to fill these crucial positions. ABA urges the Senate to take quick action in confirming these appointees to protect our nation’s businesses and infrastructure.” 

  • Lee Sanders, Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Public Affairs, American Bakers Association

“A fully functioning STB committed to adopting sensible freight rail reforms is critical to supporting the tremendous ongoing growth of chemical manufacturing in the United States. We urge the full Senate to confirm the three well-qualified nominees approved by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee without further delay so the STB can complete its deregulatory efforts and open up greater access to competitive and reliable freight rail service.”

  • Mike Walls, Vice President Regulatory & Technical Affairs, American Chemistry Council

“As one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the nation, the paper and wood products industry deserves access to effective, streamlined and competitive rail service, which is essential to move millions of tons of materials to production mills and final markets. Revoking the outdated commodity exemption policy and addressing harmful service failures are long-overdue steps that a fully-staffed Surface Transportation Board can take to help meet that goal. We thank the committee for approving the nominations of Patrick Fuchs, Michelle Schultz and Martin Oberman to the board and urge the full Senate to swiftly confirm them so that ALL industries across the country have access to the tools they need to grow the economy and create jobs.” 

  • Donna Harman, President & CEO, American Forest & Paper Association

“Promoting our nation’s energy infrastructure is a $1.3 trillion proposition that could support 1 million jobs per year through 2035 and is critical to ensuring that Americans have the energy they demand every day. We appreciate Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson’s work to advance Mr. Oberman’s nomination through the committee process and hope the full senate will act swiftly to approve this well qualified nominee. With its new leadership, we hope that the Surface Transportation Board will advance meaningful regulatory reforms aimed at improving the U.S. rail infrastructure, and providing the regulatory certainty needed for shippers to invest in modern tank cars so that Americans across the country can keep benefitting from U.S. energy resources.”

  • Robin Rorick, Midstream Group Director, American Petroleum Institute

“The Auto Alliance and our members applaud the Senate Commerce Committee for favorably reporting Martin Oberman’s nomination that will assist the Surface Transportation Board in addressing a number of key regulatory reforms. Automakers have been especially challenged by rail service declines in recent years. That’s not only a challenge for getting vehicles to customers and dealerships across the country, but rail service declines also add transport and storage costs at off-site locations when inventory exceeds plant capacity. We look forward to working with Patrick Fuchs, Michelle Schultz, and Martin Oberman once they are formally confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which will provide the STB with full slate of five board members.”

  • David Schwietert, Executive Vice President, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

“The fertilizer industry depends on safe, reliable and cost-effective rail transportation to deliver fertilizer year-round, which is essential to U.S. food production. We urge the Senate to act quickly in confirming STB nominee Martin Oberman so that the Board can become fully operational and enact reforms necessary to help farmers, agribusinesses and manufacturers be more competitive in the global marketplace.”

  • Chris Jahn, President & CEO, The Fertilizer Institute

“FRCA appreciates the Senate Commerce Committee’s continued leadership and commitment in realizing a full complement of Members to the STB. Approving Mr. Oberman’s nomination to the U.S. Senate is another important step in this critical effort. FRCA looks forward to the STB moving on major proceedings pending before the Board, some going back decades, involving the most substantive issues of great importance to the Board, shippers, railroads, and the general public.”

  • Ann Warner, Freight Rail Customer Alliance

“The Senate Commerce Committee has taken an important step in the nomination process. The country’s glass container manufacturing industry, along with its supplier partners of raw materials, depend on fair and competitive rail service. A full complement of Commissioners at the Surface Transportation Board will enable the agency to act on important shipper issues.”

  • Lynn M. Bragg, President, Glass Packaging Institute

“We applaud Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson and their colleagues on the Committee for taking up the nomination of Martin Oberman to the Surface Transportation Board so swiftly. It is vital that the STB have a full board in place as quickly as possible so that they may address the serious issues facing shippers across the economy. Our members produce the feedstock minerals used by the manufacturing sector. Reliable and affordable rail service are vital for our members to be able to compete in the global market and ensure competitive U.S. manufacturing overall.”

  • Mark Ellis, President, Industrial Minerals Association – North America and National Industrial Sand Association.

“There are a number of critical rail issues facing the recycling industry. ISRI looks forward to having a full STB board in place so that it may address the industry’s needs and ensure reliable freight transportation for scrap commodities across the country. We commend the Committee for advancing the nomination of Mr. Oberman in an effort to fill out the Board.”

  • Billy Johnson, Chief Lobbyist, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.

“Two years is too long to go without a fully-staffed Surface Transportation Board, especially given the struggles small businesses like chemical distributors have faced in getting the Class I railroads to deliver product to their facilities in a timely and cost-effective fashion. Along with the approval of Patrick Fuchs and Michelle Schultz earlier this year, we’re pleased the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee again took action today to approve Martin Oberman as the last outstanding Board nominee. We now urge the entire Senate to swiftly confirm all three nominees to enable the STB to return to the work it was mandated by Congress to do.” 

  • Eric R. Byer, President, National Association of Chemical Distributors


“At a time when America’s shippers are facing the most challenging freight transportation environment in decades, a fair and competitive freight rail system has never been more vital to the efficient functioning of the U.S. economy. The members of the National Industrial Transportation League thank the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and especially Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson, for their commitment to filling all of the vacancies on the Surface Transportation Board. We look forward to working with the Board to increase access to competitive freight rail service for all shippers.”

  • Jennifer Hedrick, Executive Director, National Industrial Transportation League

“Our members and many other shippers, have been waiting a long time for the STB to be staffed with the full complement of five Directors, that has been a requirement of the Re-authorization Act from 2015. We support a fully functioning STB and look to the new Board to consider and enforce fair shipper rail reforms that are essential in supporting the growth of railcar freight in the USA. We support the three nominees approved by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and are eager to see the full Senate confirm these individuals before the end of this summer. We need the STB to be fully equipped and staffed to deal with the critical rail issues at hand and to make positive changes within the rail industry for all shippers.”

  • Herman Haksteen, President and Board of Director, Private Railcar Food and Beverage Association (PRFBA)

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The Rail Customer Coalition (RCC) is a large collection of trade associations representing a broad cross section of manufacturing, agricultural, and energy industries that depend on the railroads to deliver reliable and affordable service in order to remain competitive in a global market. Their members are essential to a healthy U.S. economy with operations and employees throughout the country – collectively they provide more than 7 million jobs and produce more than $4.8 trillion in economic output.