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The OCC and Railroad Compliance

I have been thoroughly studying the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and I have to admit, I am awestruck at the amount of responsibility the OCC takes on. I am aware that the OCC has a human capital deficit, but there is a clear and present need for railroad tariff, fee, and service regulation.

No where in the OCC's 2018 Annual Report was information in regards to railroad oversight or regulation aside from crossings. The Staggers Rail Act of 1980 was aimed to allow rail dependent shippers to have access to other lines at fair rates, as well as ensure fair rates are offered to those lines that lack access to competitive rail services. The ICC, now the STB, is responsible for protecting those who use railway for their shipping needs. 

But the STB consistently rules in favor of the larger railroads and ruled that rail companies need not offer competitive rates to their customers and that they could deny customers access to a competing railroad. Since 2004, rail freight has increased two and a half times that of truck rates and the railroad companies are seeing record profits despite the downsizing of the rail industry to the point where it may not be able to meet the needs of our country. 

As a United States Senator, I will work with the Freight Rail Customer Alliance and the Surface Transportation Board in order to remedy these issues. But before then, I want to bring up a couple things.

First, the United States Code is divided in 53 titles and is published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives; it is the permanent law of the United States. I have a lot of reading to do, but if the STB will not mediate price and service, I believe we can initiate litigation with the federal courts providing evidence that Title 15 - Commerce and Trade is being violated.

Secondly, if we seek injunctive relief for the decades of economically damaging freight prices, only the United States can bring the suit against the STB. The Surface Transportation Board is almost invincible, but not entirely.

I will leave railroads at that for now. Here is a link to what the government intended for the railroads to do: Title 45 - Railroads, CH 17

Title 45 is not positive law. Imagine if Congress made it positive law next week by sponsoring a codification bill that says: "Title 45, Chapter 17 of the US Code is now positive law." Imagine what that would do for the economy. 

By the way, the United States is defined in Title 15, Chapter 26 (c) to include "any of the States, the District of Columbia, any territory of the U.S., and any insular (fancy word for island) possession or other place under the jurisdiction of the United States." 


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