Posts Tagged ‘American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’

District court rules Batory’s declaration of preemption stops Illinois 2PC law

In yet another example that elections have consequences, the Trump-appointed FRA administrator’s actions have potentially minimized both public and employee safety on the railroad.

In September 2019, after the State of Illinois enacted a law requiring that trains operated in Illinois be operated with a certified conductor and certified engineer, the Indiana Rail Road, which often operates with one-person crews over 250 miles of track in Illinois and Indiana, sued the Illinois Commerce Commission in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.

Backed by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), the carrier challenged that newly signed state law.

In May 2019, just days after the Illinois Legislature had passed the law, Federal Railroad Administrator Ron Batory, who was appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, withdrew a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on crew size and declared that any state law regarding crew size was preempted.

In the Indiana Rail Road lawsuit, the carrier and lobbying groups repeatedly referred to “the wisdom” of Batory’s declaration of federal preemption. The Trump appointee has followed up with other FRA choices such as safety waivers for railroads during the COVID-19 pandemic and refusing to issue an emergency order on faulty air brake components.

“Ron Batory’s notice withdrawal absolutely paved the way for the district court to rule,” SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson said. “We must keep in mind, however, that this issue is not yet settled. A larger discussion in court remains ahead, as the judgment states.”

Indeed, the district court noted that the issue of validity of the FRA’s action, which was raised by SMART-TD and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, was not properly before it and as such, the action stood for the time being.

The court went on to note that those issues are currently pending before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals involving a challenge by the states of California, Washington and Nevada, along with SMART-TD and BLET, as to the FRA’s compliance with the required APA procedures and its ability to declare state law preempted.

Oral argument was heard in that case Monday, October 5, 2020. The court has taken the matter under advisement and will issue a decision hopefully in the near future.

“It is worth noting that if the Ninth Circuit later holds that the FRA Withdrawal Order is invalid, then the Illinois Commerce Commission may move to vacate the judgment,” the district court ruling stated regarding the Illinois case.

The Illinois Commerce Commission, which would have enforced the law, was joined by SMART-TD and the BLET in defending the two-person crew law.

The court’s ruling effectively voids enforcement of the law, which took effect in January.

Read the ruling.

Rail groups push feds to drop Bakken oil rule

WASHINGTON — Two railroad industry trade groups have quietly asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to drop its requirement that rail carriers transporting large volumes of Bakken crude oil notify state emergency officials.

The railroads have maintained that they already provide communities with adequate information about hazardous materials shipments and that public release of the data could harm the industry from a security and business standpoint. But they haven’t been successful in convincing numerous states or the federal government.

Read the complete story at The Columbian.

Linda Darr to head short line rail association

WASHINGTON — The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) has selected Linda Bauer Darr to succeed Richard F. Timmons as the Association’s President. Timmons is retiring at the end of 2014.

Darr is currently the President and CEO of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), serving in that capacity since 2007. She previously held senior positions in the American Bus Association (ABA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA). From 1998 to 2000 she served in the Clinton Administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“ASLRRA undertook a nearly year-long search for its new President and we believe we have concluded that search with an outstanding selection,” said ASLRRA Chairman Ed McKechnie. “Ms. Darr has significant experience in leading trade associations and has spent almost her entire career in the transportation industry. Her government service was at a very senior level in the Agency that has direct budget and programmatic oversight over the Federal Railroad Administration, the federal agency with the most interaction with the railroad industry,” said McKechnie.

Richard Timmons is concluding his 12th year as ASLRRA’s President. “Rich transformed our Association,” said McKechnie. “He made us a stronger, more effective and more member-focused organization and we are sincerely grateful for the energy and enthusiasm he gave us during his tenure. In Linda Darr we look to taking our Association to an even higher level of effectiveness as we address the challenges of improving safety, building on our legislative successes and enhancing the short line railroad brand,” said McKechnie.

“Short line railroads are a dynamic and increasingly important part of the nation’s transportation network,” said Darr. “They are owned by entrepreneurs who are risk-takers in the very best sense of the word and I am looking forward to helping them be as successful as possible.”

Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) President Ed Hamberger applauded the choice. “I have known and worked with Linda over many years,” said Hamberger. “She is a smart, energetic leader with a wealth of experience in the transportation industry. I look forward to maintaining the strong partnership we have enjoyed with ASLRRA under Rich Timmons’ leadership,” said Hamberger.

Darr is a graduate of the University of Maryland and has done post-graduate work at the University of Virginia and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Her current and past professional affiliations include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100 Top Association Executives, serving as an instructor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School on the topic of association management and lobbying, working as an advisor to the Eno Transportation Foundation, actively participating in the Transportation Research Board, and serving as a Board Member of the U.S. – Mexico Chamber of Commerce. She will be the first female ASLRRA President in the Association’s 101 year history.