WASHINGTON (January 3, 2019) – Members of the Rail Customer Coalition (RCC) commend the Senate for confirming Patrick Fuchs and Martin Oberman to serve on the Surface Transportation Board (STB). The long-standing vacancies at the Board have severely hampered the STB’s ability to address ongoing freight rail issues and advance overdue regulatory reforms.

In December, the Coalition sent a letter to President Trump asking the White House to work with Senate leadership to act quickly and confirm the nominees.

The RCC represents the largest users of freight rail across the manufacturing, agriculture and energy sectors. 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, which is why a functioning STB is so important to its members.

In addition to adequately resourcing the Board, members of the RCC support practical regulatory reforms that would allow better access to competitive freight rail service and that would make the STB operate more efficiently and effectively for all stakeholders.

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

Cal Dooley, President & CEO of the American Chemistry Council:

“We applaud Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer for their hard work and the entire Senate for taking action to usher in a new era at the Surface Transportation Board that Congress envisioned when it passed the STB Reauthorization Act. The Board can now get down to business on adopting new policies that will help promote a more competitive and reliable freight rail system. With more than $200 billion in new capital investment in more than 330 new projects to grow chemical manufacturing in the U.S., it’s more important than ever that we have a freight rail system in this country that can help deliver the growth in our industry.”

Donna Harman, President & CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association:

“The paper and wood products industry appreciates the Senate’s recognition of the need to advance long-overdue freight rail policy reforms by confirming Patrick Fuchs and Martin Oberman to the Surface Transportation Board. We look forward to working with the Board to ensure our companies and other industries have the avenues they need to address harmful service and pricing issues. Along with revoking the outdated commodity exemption policy, these reforms will go a long way toward supporting our manufacturer’s ability to move billions of tons of materials to production mills and final markets.”

Chris Jahn, CEO of The Fertilizer Institute:

“It has been far too long since the STB was adequately staffed. We must not wait any longer to enact reforms necessary to help farmers, agribusinesses and manufacturers be more competitive in the global marketplace. 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.”

Joseph J. Cattaneo, Executive Director of the Glass Packaging Institute:

“The country’s glass container manufacturing industry, along with its supplier partners of raw materials, depend on fair and competitive rail service. We applaud the Senate’s confirmation of Patrick Fuchs and Martin Oberman to the Surface Transportation Board, which will enable the Board to act on critical shipper issues.”

Billy Johnson, Chief Lobbyist of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries:

“There are a number of critical rail issues facing the recycling industry. ISRI looks forward to having a working STB in place so that it may address the industry’s needs and ensure reliable freight transportation for scrap commodities across the country.”

Eric R. Byer, President of the National Association of Chemical Distributors:

“A functioning Surface Transportation Board (STB) is imperative to address issues facing rail customers every day, like service disruptions, delays, a lack of choice in rail carrier, and unfair demurrage practices. NACD is pleased to see the Senate approve nominees Martin Oberman and Patrick Fuchs to serve on the STB, and we look forward to seeing the remaining open seats filled in the new Congress so the Board can carry out its congressionally-mandated function to adjudicate issues between the railroads and their customers like chemical distributors.”

Jennifer Hedrick, Executive Director of the National Industrial Transportation League:

“America’s shippers are grateful that the U.S. Senate has approved new members to serve on the Surface Transportation Board. With tariffs, trade wars, and economic uncertainty roiling the freight transportation environment, 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 for filling the vacancies on the STB and look forward to working with the Board to increase access to competitive freight rail service for all shippers.”

Shelley Sahling-Zart, President, Freight Rail Customer Alliance

“Our sincere thanks to the U.S. Senate for confirming Patrick Fuchs (R) and Martin Oberman (D) to serve as Members of the Surface Transportation Board. Freight rail shippers are looking forward to the White House and Senate building off of this bipartisan effort and taking the next steps to achieve a full complement of STB Members beginning with re-nominating Michelle Schultz (R) for a first term and nominating former STB Vice Chairman, Deb Miller (D) for a second term. It is vital for all stakeholders that STB move on major rulemakings – some of which have been pending before the Board for years – that would reform existing STB process.”

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