LANSING — State Rep. Brian K. Elder (D-Bay City) has introduced House Resolution 134 urging the U.S. Congress to maintain the U.S. Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) statutory authority to encourage railway competition. The STB is an independent federal agency tasked with regulatory oversight of the rail industry.

“Access to reliable, affordable transportation via rail is essential not only to Michigan agriculture, but the entire nation,” said Rep. Elder. “Many of my people rely on rail service to move their products to market across the country and world, so when rates go up on these systems, it is our agricultural producers who pay. That additional cost is passed on to the consumer, hurting us all in the process.”

The rail industry in the U.S. is currently exempt from federal antitrust laws, and as a result is seen as an uncompetitive industry. Many agricultural shippers have access to only a single railroad with no cost-effective transportation alternative, with rising rates and limited market exposure translating to increased costs both for farmers and consumers.

“Our rail system — like much infrastructure across the nation — is aging rapidly, with increased failure rates, so it’s important we subject it to effective regulation,” said Rep. Elder. “This resolution will help ensure that the Surface Transportation Board is empowered to perform that duty to the fullest extent possible.”