[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 112 (Tuesday, June 10, 2008)]
[Page 32786]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-12944]

[[Page 32786]]



Surface Transportation Board

[STB Ex Parte No. 677 (Sub-No. 1)]

Common Carrier Obligation of Railroads--Transportation of 
Hazardous Materials

AGENCY: Surface Transportation Board, DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Public Hearing.


SUMMARY: The Surface Transportation Board will hold a public hearing 
beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 16, 2008, at its headquarters in 
Washington, DC. The purpose of the public hearing will be to examine 
issues related to the common carrier obligation of railroads with 
respect to the transportation of hazardous materials. Persons wishing 
to speak at the hearing should notify the Board in writing.

DATES: The public hearing will take place on Wednesday, July 16, 2008. 
Any person wishing to speak at the hearing should file with the Board a 
written notice of intent to participate, and should identify the party, 
the proposed speaker, and the time requested, as soon as possible but 
no later than July 2, 2008. Each speaker should also file with the 
Board his/her written testimony in that same document. Written 
submissions by interested persons who do not wish to appear at the 
hearing will also be due by July 2, 2008.

ADDRESSES: All notices of intent to participate and testimony may be 
submitted either via the Board's e-filing format or in the traditional 
paper format. Any person using e-filing should attach a document and 
otherwise comply with the Board's http://www.stb.dot.gov Web site, at 
the ``E-FILING'' link. Any person submitting a filing in the 
traditional paper format should send an original and 10 copies of the 
filing to: Surface Transportation Board, Attn: STB Ex Parte No. 677 
(Sub-No. 1), 395 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20423-0001.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT: Joseph Dettmar, (202) 245-0395. 
[Assistance for the hearing impaired is available through the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at: (800) 877-8339.]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The common carrier obligation refers to the 
statutory duty of railroads to provide ``transportation or service on 
reasonable request.'' 49 U.S.C. 11101(a). A railroad may not refuse to 
provide service merely because to do so would be inconvenient or 
unprofitable. G.S. Roofing Prods. Co. v. Surface Transp. Bd., 143 F.3d 
387, 391 (8th Cir. 1998). The common carrier obligation, however, is 
not absolute, and service requests must be reasonable. Id. In recent 
years, the Board has seen an increasing number of questions arising, 
both formally and informally, regarding the extent of a railroad's 
common carrier obligation. As a result, the Board held a hearing on 
April 24-25, 2008, to hear comments from interested parties on the 
common carrier obligation and to provide a forum for discussion of that 
    That hearing raised many issues involving the obligation of 
railroads to haul hazardous materials, including toxic by inhalation 
hazards (TIH). For many hazardous materials, including TIH, rail is the 
safest and most efficient mode of transportation. But, according to the 
railroads, the transportation of these materials subjects them to 
ruinous liability in the event of an accident. To allow a more detailed 
discussion, the Board is holding a hearing to explore the issues 
surrounding the transportation of hazardous materials by rail.
    The Board is interested in specific potential policy solutions to 
the liability issue, including solutions modeled on the Price-Anderson 
Act of 1957. The Price-Anderson Act was designed to ensure that 
adequate funds would be available to satisfy liability claims of 
members of the public for personal injury and property damage in the 
event of a catastrophic nuclear accident. Parties may also comment on 
the appropriate role of the Board in developing such a policy solution. 
The Board is also interested in the wide range of views from all 
stakeholders, including any diversity of views from similarly situated 
companies or groups.
    Parties are also invited to comment on what constitutes a 
reasonable request for service involving the movement of TIH, as well 
as whether there are unique costs associated with the transportation of 
hazardous materials, and if so, how railroads recover those costs. 
Also, the Board would benefit from a discussion of efforts by various 
federal agencies, including the Federal Railway Administration and the 
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, to address the 
transportation of hazardous materials.
    Date of Hearing. The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 
July 16, 2008, in the 1st floor hearing room at the Board's 
headquarters at 395 E Street, SW., in Washington, DC, and will 
continue, with short breaks if necessary, until every person scheduled 
to speak has been heard.
    Notice of Intent To Participate. Any person wishing to speak at the 
hearing should file with the Board a written notice of intent to 
participate, and should identify the party, the proposed speaker, and 
the time requested, as soon as possible, but no later than July 2, 
    Testimony. Each speaker should file with the Board his/her written 
testimony with his/her notice of intent to participate (by July 2, 
2008). Also, any interested person who wishes to submit a written 
statement without appearing at the July 16 hearing should file that 
statement by July 2, 2008.
    Board Releases and Live Video Streaming Available Via the Internet. 
Decisions and notices of the Board, including this notice, are 
available on the Board's Web site at http://www.stb.dot.gov. This 
hearing will be available on the Board's Web site by live video 
streaming. To access the hearing, click on the ``Live Video'' link 
under ``Information Center'' at the left side of the home page 
beginning at 9 a.m. on July 16, 2008.
    This action will not significantly affect either the quality of the 
human environment or the conservation of energy resources.

    Dated: June 4, 2008.
Anne K. Quinlan,
Acting Secretary.
 [FR Doc. E8-12944 Filed 6-9-08; 8:45 am]