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Sen. Kohl vows to continue championing antitrust provision in rail reform bill


During Rail Customer Day in Washington, D.C., yesterday, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) pledged to keep fighting on Capitol Hill to pass the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009 (S.146/H.R. 233), his bipartisan bill that seeks to repeal railroads’ antitrust exemptions.

Kohl introduced the legislation last year in response to concerns — primarily from captive shippers — that freight railroads are “abusing their dominant market power and raising rates for those who rely on them to ship dozens of vital commodities, including coal and agricultural products,” he said in a prepared statement. S.146/H.R. 233 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2009 and Kohl reached an agreement with Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) in June 2009 to include an antitrust provision in Rockefeller’s Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2009 (S.2889), a rail regulatory reform bill that could reach the Senate floor this year.

In many cases, “ordinary protections” from antitrust law are unavailable to captive shippers — instead, “railroads are protected by a series of exemptions from the normal rules of antitrust law to which all other industries must abide,” said Kohl.

“My goal is to ensure that railroads play by the same rules as all businesses in our economy and give all railroad shippers strong remedies under antitrust law,” he said. “We have made it plain that we will not consent to any rail bill moving forward on the Senate floor that does not contain such antitrust provisions.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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