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The U.S. Senate this week confirmed Robert Primus of New Jersey and Michelle Schultz of Pennsylvania to fill the two remaining vacancies on the Surface Transportation Board (STB).
The confirmations result in the first time the STB has been fully staffed since the STB Reauthorization Act of 2015 expanded its membership from three to five commissioners.
The Senate's action prompted praise from representatives of the railroad and rail shipper industries.
Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and Chief Executive Officer Ian Jefferies said the association looks forward to having "robust, transparent discussions" with the new STB members.
"Railroads continue to evolve and nimbly adapt to provide remarkable service to shippers, which will only be possible if the industry can continue to invest for tomorrow," said Jefferies in a press release. "The industry's resilience is only possible thanks to the balanced regulatory framework that Congress entrusted the board to maintain. Now more than ever, the wisdom of that decision is crystal clear."
Having a fully staffed STB is of "paramount importance" for chemical distributors, said Eric Byer, president of the National Association of Chemical Distributors.
"The confirmation of Robert Primus and Michelle Schultz will go a long way in reaffirming the STB as the authority on rail issues, particularly as it relates to demurrage charges and rail service matters," Byer said in a press release.
The Rail Customer Coalition, which represents the largest customers of freight rail, said in a prepared statement that its members look forward to working with the board to "promote competition and streamline overly bureaucratic procedures."