Posts Tagged ‘Karen Hedlund’

STB Nomination Continues to Languish in Senate

October 9, 2021

The nomination of Karen J. Hedlund to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board continues to languish in the U.S. Senate.

Hedlund, a Democrat, was nominated by President Joseph Biden to fill the seat now held by Republican Ann D. Begeman whose term has expired and who by law must leave the Board by Dec. 31. Begeman continues to be a voting STB member with holdover status.

The nomination of Hedlund was sidetracked on Oct. 6 when Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) objected to Hedlund on the Senate floor.

Lee responded after presiding officer Senate Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) asked if Hedlund could be confirmed by unanimous consent of the senators present without a recorded vote.

Last August, Lee was the lone senator to vote against Hedlund when her nomination was considered by the Senate Commerce Committee.

Lee apparently has placed a “hold” on the Hedlund nomination, using a parliamentary procedure to prevent a motion from reaching a vote on the Senate floor.

Railway Age columnist Frank Wilner has reported that Hedlund has become a political pawn in an effort by the Utah congressional delegation to pressure the STB into supporting the efforts of a private-public partnership to build an 85-mile intrastate railroad in Utah.

The railroad, known as the Unita Basin Railway, would haul crude oil extracted from fracking operations to a connection with Union Pacific at Kyune, Utah.

Because it will connect with the national rail system, the UBR needs an STB certificate of public convenience and necessity.

STB Chairman Martin Oberman has expressed concern as to the financial viability of the project and the effects on the environment that it might create.

Wilner has written that some in Utah hold against Hedlund her prior professional associations with Oberman when she was practicing law in Chicago and Oberman was chairman of commuter operator Metra.

Hedlund is a former deputy administrator and chief counsel at the Federal Railroad Administration, a former chief counsel at the Federal Highway Administration, and most recently vice president and national strategy adviser at WSP USA.

Some in Utah fear that Hedlund will view the UBR project in the same way that Oberman does, although he also has said he does not currently oppose the project, but rather wants the STB to seek additional information about it.

The UBR project has already been before the STB already. In January 2021 the Board voted 2-1 that it meets the statutory standard for fast-track approval.

Oberman was the dissenting voter and dissented again on Sept. 30 when the Board voted 3-1 to deny a motion for reconsideration of its January decision. It is unclear when the STB plans to hold a final vote on awarding a certificate of public convenience and necessity to the UBR project.

Hedlund Intended to Replace Begeman on STB

May 3, 2021

The nomination of Democrat Karen J. Hedlund to the Surface Transportation Board is intended to be a replacement for Republican Ann Begeman.

Although Begeman’s term expired Dec. 31, 2020, by law she is eligible to remain on the board in holdover status for up to 12 months or until replaced.

Begeman has served two five-year terms on the STB and was acting chair until replaced in that position by Democrat Martin Oberman last January. STB members are limited to two five-year terms by statute. 

Hedlund will need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before replacing Begeman on the board.

Congressional observers told Railway Age magazine that Hedlund’s nomination is not expected to get a Senate floor vote until June or July.

A former counsel and deputy administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration, Hedlund since January 2015 has worked at WSP USA (then Parsons Brinckerhoff).

Previously she worked with federal, state and local transportation agencies as well as private companies to facilitate financing and development of transportation projects.

Those included Amtrak’s Gateway Program, Chicago O’Hare Airport Express Rail and the California High-Speed Rail Program.

Hedlund received a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

Hedlund Nominated for STB Seat

April 30, 2021

Karen Hedlund has been nominated by the Biden administration for a vacant seat on the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

She previously served as chief counsel for the Federal Highway Administration, and chief counsel and deputy administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration.

Hedlund most recently has been involved with development of the Gateway project in the Northeast Corridor and a high speed rail proposal in the Pacific Northwest.

At one time she was a co-chair of the American Public Transportation Association’s Commuter and High-Speed and Passenger Rail Legislative Subcommittee.