Badger-CURE Supports Wisconsin Senators' Rail Reform Effort

Mar 07, 2007, 00:00 ET from CURE

    MADISON, Wis., March 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A coalition of
 Wisconsin freight rail customers is rallying behind bipartisan legislation
 introduced by Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) that would level the playing field
 by subjecting railroads to the same rules of competition as other
 industries and the customers they serve. Today, Senators Russ Feingold
 (D-Wis.), Norm Coleman (R- Minn.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Jay Rockefeller
 (D-W.Va.) joined Kohl in introducing the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act
 of 2007, legislation to repeal antitrust exemptions currently held by the
 railroad industry.
     "Our nation's rail policy needs to be fixed; it is not meeting the
 economic needs of our state or our country," said Mike Turner, executive
 director of WI Crop Production Association and member of Badger-CURE. "We
 commend Senators Kohl and Feingold for recognizing the severity of
 Wisconsin's freight rail problems and taking congressional action to solve
     The coalition argues that the antitrust exemptions run counter to
 Congress' goals when it reformed the railroads in 1980. Competition was
 supposed to guide federal rail policy.
     Since 1980, a new railroad monopoly has emerged; today four major
 railroads move 90 percent of our nation's freight, with two operating in
 the West and two in the East. In fact, an October 2006 report by the U.S.
 Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that there is " ... a
 reasonable possibility that shippers in selected markets may be paying
 excessive rates related to a lack of competition."
     "The GAO report is validated by our experience," said David Jenkins,
 manager with the WI Electric Cooperative Association. "The concentrated
 ownership of key parts of our nation's rail routes has led to soaring rates
 and unreliable service by the railroads."
     In a letter thanking Senator Kohl for his effort, the coalition noted
 impacts of poor rail service in Wisconsin identified during hearings held
 by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) and the Department of
 Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The PSC reported a $75 million
 increase in electric rates due to disruptions in rail coal deliveries to
 Wisconsin utilities.
     The Badger-CURE coalition is comprised of 45 Wisconsin businesses and
 organizations representing key state industries such as manufacturing,
 agriculture and electric utilities that rely on rail to ship or receive
 commodities, as well as energy customers groups and union utility workers.
 For more information visit
     CONTACT: John Sumi of CURE, +1-608-286-0784