The “crisis on the rails” hearings have wrapped

Emergency hearings have wrapped up over what ag groups call “a crisis on the rails.”

Dozens of groups shared their stories with the Surface Transportation Board about how delays and costs are impacting their ability to ship their product. They say that the backups are dire. Many point to a shortage of skilled workers as the leading cause. In addition to agriculture, it could lead to an even bigger energy crisis.

“Many customers want more coal than the railroad can deliver, resulting in the curtailment of utilities like we just heard, burning coal to keep adequate stockpiles of inventory available, especially during the grueling summer months. It is especially difficult for utilities that must turn to natural gas and are forced to pay at the current high prices that are only being exacerbated by the current geopolitical turmoil. In turn, higher fuel rates mean higher rates for electricity users. With many countries banning Russian energy imports, we need to make sure our domestic coal exports can fill the void and get the product to markets where it is desperately needed,” Katie Mills with the National Mining Association states.

The STB chair took railroad execs to task saying that they assured the board a year ago that staffing would not be an issue. The board said that claims that “unexpected demand” is contributing to the congestion fall short.


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