Board Member Views on Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization
2167 Rayburn House Office Building and online via videoconferencing
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Crawford (R-AR):
Thank you, Chair Payne, for holding this hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for participating.
Today’s hearing will be the first time all five Surface Transportation Board members have appeared before the Committee. We will hear about their work and thoughts on a potential STB reauthorization.
The STB is an independent agency created in 1996. It has only been reauthorized once, in 2015, when changes were made to ensure the STB operated more effectively, including expanding the Board from three to five members.
This year, the STB is busier than ever as it reviews several major proposed rulemakings, a major merger between two Class One freight railroads, and the potential expansion of Amtrak service.
The STB recently held a two-day hearing where it examined service issues involving freight railroad carriers and shippers. The STB heard testimony from several stakeholders on their concerns about the state of the industry, and potential solutions.
Some of these freight service issues have arisen in my district, prompting me to submit a letter to the STB expressing my concerns and hopes that the STB can work with shippers and freight carriers to resolve these problems.
When broadly looking at a potential STB reauthorization, we must carefully and deliberatively examine the Board’s needs, ensure that any proposals have a positive long-term impact on the STB’s operations, and we must not interfere with, slow down, or distract from the STB’s current duties and abundant workload.
I commend the Chair for holding this hearing today and look forward to hearing from our witnesses.