<HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>96 Rail Issues Intensify, WWC Staff, Wheat Life</TITLE> </HEAD> <body bgcolor="FFFFFF" text="000000" link="0000FF" vlink="FF0000" alink="0000FF"> <basefont face="Arial, Tahoma, Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000033"> <TABLE border="0" width="100%" cellspacing="0"> <TR align="left" valign="top"> <td><small> <A href="https://sgi25.netservers.net/bluefish.org/thefilm.htm">the film</A><br> <A href="forum.htm">forum</A><br> <A href="library.htm">library</A><br> <A href="tutorial.htm">tutorial</A><br> <A href="contact.htm">contact</A> </small></td> <TD> <A href="economic.htm"><img src="images/economic.gif" border="0" width="110" height="110" align="center" alt="Economic and dam related articles"></a> <TD> <CENTER><FONT FACE="Arial, Helvetica" COLOR="0000FF"> <strong><BIG><H2 align="center">Rail Issues Intensify</H2> </BIG></STRONG></FONT><FONT COLOR="FF0000">by WWC Staff <BR>Wheat Life, November 2006</FONT></CENTER> </TABLE> <HR> <P align="left"> Rail concerns in the U.S. are mounting. The General Accounting Office (GAO) is now conducting an analysis of rail issues by looking at industry financial performance, rates, competition and methods to deal with open competition and captivity issues. A shipper-friendly amendment by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) to the 2007 Transportation Appropriations bill directed the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to conduct hearings on bottlenecks and to publish final rules for small rate cases.

The STB has been busy with hearings on "Review of Rail Access & Competition Issues" and simplified standards for rail rate cases. A hearing on rail fuel surcharges resulted in a STB directive to the railroads that fuel charges must be more closely linked to the increase in the portion of fuel costs tied to the movement to which the fuel is applied.

Rail carriers are now required to submit monthly reports showing total fuel costs, total fuel consumption and total fuel surcharge revenue and how much surcharge is shared with shortlines. The Alliance for Rail Competition (ARC) and Washington Wheat Commission transportation consultant Terry Whiteside represented wheat grower concerns in these proceedings.

Anti-trust concerns raised

The National Conference of State Legislatures shares in frustrations with rail service and is looking at legislation to ensure that the STB provides for equitable rate setting; interprets deregulation law to promote competition; removes RR anti-trust exemption; urges mandatory service and reliability standards; and uses its authority to protect rail customers and ensure reasonable rates for shippers.

Several States' Attorneys General also see the need to address railroad monopoly power (high rates and poor service) by removing anti-trust exemptions and subject railroads to competition. Two pending bills on the Anti-Trust issue include: H.R. 3318 "Railroad Anti-trust & Competition Enhancement Act of 2005" and S. 3612 "Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2006."

Washington state pursues rail capacity issue

Nearly 300 stakeholders (from shippers to county public officials) from across the state provided input during several listening sessions on Washington's Statewide Rail Capacity and System Needs Study. A summary of what the Washington State Department of Transportation heard revealed many similarities across the state:

It was noted that the Puget Sound and Vancouver sessions focused on the flow of goods to and from the ports, while the other sessions focused on movement of local goods on mainlines and ensuring that Washington citizens benefit from rail rather than become simply a pass-through state. For a complete summary of the listening sessions visit www.wstc.wa.gov/rail/Rail-RegListenSesSum.pdf.

Columbia River deepening moves forward

Construction of the 43-foot deep Columbia River navigation between the ocean and Portland/Vancouver, began June 2005 and will be nearly halfway completed by the end of 2006. Once Congress completes a $15-million appropriation, a total of $49-million in federal funds and $55-million in Oregon and Washington state funds will have been appropriated for channel deepening. According to the Columbia River Channel Coalition, approximately $50-million in additional federal funds will then be required to complete the project.

<HR> <strong>WWC Staff</strong><br> <A href="http://www.wheatlifemagazine.com/0307/pg48_0307.pdf"> <I>Rail Issues Intensify</I></a><BR> <strong>Wheat Life</STRONG>, November 2006 <HR> <P align="center"><CENTER> <BIG><strong>See what you can learn</STRONG></BIG><P> <A href="topic.htm">learn more on topics covered in the film</A><BR> <A href="https://sgi25.netservers.net/bluefish.org/video.htm">see the video</A><BR> <A href="script.htm">read the script</A><BR> <A href="songs.htm">learn the songs</A><BR> <A href="forum.htm">discussion forum</A><BR> <IMG src="salmon_swimming_md_wht.gif" width=150 height=70 alt="salmon animation"> </CENTER> </basefont> </body> </HTML>