On Friday, February 22, ISRI filed a petition to lift the restrictions on ex parts communications with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in order to educate the two new STB board members about the proposed to revoke the rail exemption for ferrous scrap. ISRI joined the American Forest and Paper Association advocating for the inclusion of paper into this rule making. The rule would remove the rail exemption that prevents shippers of ferrous scrap from appealing to the STB regarding poor service, emerge and other tariff charges, and other rail related problems.
Ferrous scrap was included in a 2012 STB investigation concerning limited rail shipping options for ferrous scrap. Ferrous was one of five commodity groups the STB investigated. Unfortunately, paper was not included in this initial round. ISRI filed comments supporting the STB’s decision to revoke the rail exemption and provided significant analysis and testimony supporting the STB’s own investigation. While the rule making was moving in 2016, several board members’ terms were up for renewal leaving the STB without a quorum. The presidential election resulted in new appointments to the STB that required Senate confirmation which only recently occurred after nearly two years of delays. Now with the confirmation of two board replacements, the STB has a sufficient quorum to make decisions on new and outstanding rules and petitions as well as to address severe rail service problems.
Earlier in February, ISRI staff met with the new STB Board members who indicted they intend to clear the backlog of rule makings and petitions as soon as possible. Both new Board members have been on the job for about three weeks due to the government shutdown so the process is only now beginning. ISRI’s petition is aimed at jumpstarting this rule making process for revoking the rail exemption for ferrous scrap by urging the Board to complete this rule that will allow the scrap recycling industry to address rail related issues. With the rail exemption in place, remedies for poor rail service, over charges, etc. are simply not available for scrap shippers.
For additional information, please contact ISRI Chief Lobbyist Billy Johnson.