217.370.8505 cory@bletislb.org

STB rejects UP’s request for confidentiality in embargo case

The Surface Transportation Board has rejected Union Pacific Railroad’s request to keep certain commercial information confidential in a case involving the Class I’s use of traffic-control embargoes.

Last month, the board held a two-day public hearing on UP’s use of embargoes as a method of controlling rail traffic. During the hearing, board members asked UP to submit additional information that UP later said qualifies as “confidential commercial information” under board regulations and should be kept from release under the Freedom of Information Act.

But the Freight Rail Customer Alliance (FRCA) and National Coal Transportation Association (NCTA) on Jan. 4 filed a reply in opposition to UP’s motion for a protective order. The reply argues that the primary issue in the proceeding is UP’s lack of accountability and transparency related to its use of embargoes and other service restrictions, and that UP should not be permitted to prevent customers and the public from scrutinizing its actions by keeping information submitted to the STB confidential.

Several labor unions also filed in opposition to UP’s request, saying that the railroad failed to identify the information it wants to keep confidential.

In a decision issued Jan. 20, the STB agreed with the FRCA and NCTA, stating that “transparency should be pursued to the greatest degree possible.” Information submitted by UP should be made available to the public as long as it doesn’t cause UP competitive harm.

STB Embargo decision