Freight rail reform can’t come soon enough
Forest and paper product manufacturers rely on America’s railroads to move raw materials to mills and finished products to customers. Nearly 60 million tons of wood, pulp and paper products made that journey in 2015, according to the American Association of Railroads. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), which has regulatory oversight of rail rates and service, has initiated proceedings to revise outdated regulatory exemptions, enhance rail competition through reciprocal switching agreements and improve its procedures used to challenge unreasonably high rail rates. Implementing those reforms will go a long way toward supporting our industry’s needs for more cost-effective, efficient and competitive rail service.
In March 2016, the Board proposed to eliminate certain outdated commodity exemptions in a rulemaking proceeding. Although forest and paper products were not included in the proposal, the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has formally requested that exemptions adopted more than 25 years ago for these products also be revoked, and we filed comments and evidence to support revocation.
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