CURE Praises Senate Committee for Holding STB Confirmation Hearing

For Immediate Release: May 6, 2015
Contact: Ann Warner

WASHINGTON, DC — Consumers United for Rail Equity (CURE) today praised the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for holding a hearing on the confirmation of Daniel R. Elliott III to serve a second term on the Surface Transportation Board.

Mr. Elliott’s previous term on the STB, including his holdover period, expired December 3, 2014. President Obama nominated Mr. Elliott for a second term on January 13.

“The Senate Commerce Committee, Chairman John Thune (R-SD), and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL), are to be commended for their focus on issues impacting rail freight shippers,” said David Sauer, president of CURE and chief operating officer and senior vice president of Dakota Gasification Company (Dakota Gas), Bismarck ND, a subsidiary of Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

“A vacancy at the STB creates uncertainties and delays for the rail shippers that rely on the Board to review rail rate and service disputes,” Sauer said. “The STB is a three member board, meaning that when there is a vacancy, a unanimous vote is needed to resource any pending matter. Given that most of the rate cases before the Board are litigated over a number of years, it is important that we do not face any unnecessary delays especially those caused by a board member vacancy.”

“Mr. Elliott’s responses to various questions raised by the Committee Members echoed frustrations long shared by shippers including that the current rate case process was unfair”, said Sauer. Elliott committed to moving stalled rulemakings and that the job of the STB is to be a federal backstop if the market is not working. Elliott noted that the Staggers Act worked but it is the right time to examine rules that were written for a very different railroad industry.

CURE looks forward to the Committee promptly approving Elliott’s nomination and sending it to a vote by the full Senate. “During his previous tenure as STB Chairman, Mr. Elliott earned the respect and support of both shippers and railroads for his willingness to listen to all sides of an issue and his extensive outreach,” Sauer said.

The mission of CURE, and its successor organization, is to obtain changes in Federal law and policy that will provide all freight shippers with reliable rail service at competitive prices.