Posts Tagged ‘STB members’

Primus Nominated for another STB Term

June 24, 2022

Robert E. Primus will be renominated by the Biden administration for a five-year term on the U.S. Surface Transportation board.

A Democrat, Primus, was nominated in July 2020 by the Trump administration and confirmed by the Senate in January 2021 to fill the unexpired term of Deb Miller that was to end Dec. 31, 2022.

Senate confirmation of the second Primus nomination would mean his term would run through Dec. 31, 2027. By law STB members are limited to no more than two five-year terms.

Before joining the STB, Primus worked as a congressional staff member.

The STB has five members with the current makeup being three Democrats and two Republicans.

Other Board members and the dates that their terms expire include Chairman Martin J. Oberman, Dec. 31, 2023; Patrick J. Fuchs, Jan. 17, 2024; Karen J. Hedlund, Dec. 31, 2025, and Michelle A. Schultz, Jan. 11, 2026. Fuchs and Schultz are Republican members of the board.

In an unrelated announcement, Oberman said he has appointed with the approval of the Board, Mai Dinh to serve as Director of the Office of Proceedings.

She will oversees the development of the public record in proceedings before the agency and manages the office’s legal and administrative sections.

Dinh most recently served as assistant general counsel with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she led the legal team advising the Agricultural Marketing Service.

She has administrative law experience through previous positions at the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Election Commission, and National Indian Gaming Commission. 

Hedlund Sworn in to STB Seat

January 4, 2022

Karen J. Hedlund has taken her seat on the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which gives the agency its full five members.

Hedlund, a Democrat, succeeds Ann Begeman, a Republican whose term and holdover status had both expired.

Hedlund, whose term runs through Dec. 31, 2025, has held a number of administrative positions with federal transportation agencies, including serving as chief counsel and deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (2010-2014), and chief counsel of the Federal Highway Administration (2009-2010).

Most recently Hedlund has worked as a consultant for governmental agencies and private investors on passenger rail and transportation-oriented projects.

Hedlund Confirmed for STB Seat

December 17, 2021

The U.S. Senate this week confirmed Karen J. Hedlund to a seat on the five-member U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Hedlund, a Democrat, will replace Republican Ann D. Begeman, who was serving on the Board in holdover status after her term expired.

Nominated by President Joseph Biden last April, Hedlund’s nomination had stalled due to the objection of Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah). 

There had been speculation Lee wanted to keep Hudlund off the Board until it acted on a petition to create the 85-mile Uinta Basin Railway, which was to carry crude oil from the Uinta Basin to a connection with Union Pacific.

The STB approved the Unita Basin project this week and the Senate subsequently approved Hedlund’s nomination for unanimous consent.

Railway Age columnit Frank Wilner reported that Lee may have worried that Hedlund would, like STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman, have concerns about the Unita Basin project and might vote against it.

In other Senate action, Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida) objected to confirmation of Amitabha Bose to be Federal Railroad Administrator.

Bose is currently serving as Deputy Administrator and will continue in that role indefinitely.

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.

STB Now at Five Members

January 12, 2021

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board now has its full complement of five members after Michelle Schultz took her seat on Monday.

It is the first time the Board has had five members since Congress approved a law in 2015 setting the membership at five.

Schultz, a Republican member, worked for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, most recently serving as deputy general counsel.

Before joining SEPTA, she was an associate at White and Williams, representing businesses on financial matters, and also was a judicial law clerk for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Schultz earned a Master of Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania; a Juris Doctor degree from Widener University School of Law; and a Bachelor of Arts from the Pennsylvania State University.

She is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Senate Confirms 2 STB Nominees

November 20, 2020

The U.S. Senate this week confirmed the appointments of Robert Primus and Michelle Schultz to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which brings the agency to its full authorized number of members.

The fourth and fifth members of the STB are expected to assume their posts shortly.

The STB is authorized by the 2015 Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act to have five members.

Current STB Chairman Ann Begeman’s term expires on Dec. 31 but by law she may remain in holdover status for up to 12 months.

However, she must leave the board if the president appoints and the Senate confirms her successor during 2021.

Begeman is in her second term on the STB and is seen by some Washington observers as unlikely to be renamed to the board.

Primus, a Democrat, was named to replace Democrat Deb Miller for a seat whose term expires Dec. 31, 2022.

Schultz, a Republican, will fill one of two new seats created by the 2015 law that had yet to be filled. She will serve a five-year term.

The term of Republican STB member Patrick Fuchs expires on Jan. 17, 2024 while the term of  Democrat Martin Oberman expires on Dec. 31, 2023.

The STB is expected next year to take action on a number of moves that have become bogged down due to the board being at less than full membership.

These include the method by which revenue adequacy is determined, including whether historical or replacement costs are to be used in computing a railroad’s investment base, and the method for estimating the equity portion of the railroad industry’s cost of capital.  

Also on the docket are matter of whether and how revenue-adequate railroads should be constrained in raising rates and how to simplify and make less costly the determination of reasonable rates where railroads are market-dominant.

Railway Age reported that this issue might be solved through agreement with the railroads that would avoid a post-decision judicial challenge.

The Association of American Railroads is considering proposing some manner of non-precedent-setting arbitration to decide all but major rate cases.

Other matters up for discussion and resolution include setting criteria for, and means to, providing competitive access at sole-served rail facilities; whether to eliminate paper barriers in line sale and line lease agreements that restrict short line railroads from interchanging traffic with competitors of the Class I railroad that sold or leased them the trackage; an appropriate formula for recovery of increased fuel costs; and whether previous regulatory exemptions should be withdrawn, given changed circumstances.”

Primus Nominated for STB Seat

July 23, 2020

Robert Primus had been nominated by the Trump administration to fill a Democratic seat on the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

The 49-year-old career Democratic congressional staffer is expected to be paired on the Senate floor with Republican nominee Michelle A. Schultz, whose nomination has been stalled for three years pending the naming of a Democrat to fill one of the two vacant seats on the five-member board.

Current STB members are Republican Chairman Ann D. Begeman, Republican Patrick J. Fuchs and Democrat Martin J. Oberman.

The Senate Commerce Committee will consider Primus in a hearing that observers do not expect to be controversial.

Schultz was earlier recommended by the committee for confirmation.

Begeman, who controls the STB’s docket, is expected to hold any controversial cases until the two new members are seated.

However, Begeman’s term expires on Dec. 31 although she can remain in the post for another year pending confirmation of a successor.

Oberman Appointed Vice Chair of STB

January 8, 2020

Martin Oberman has been appointed as vice chairman of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

He succeeds Patrick Fuchs, who will continues to serve as a board member.

Oberman joined the STB member on Jan. 22, 2019.

He formerly was a member of the governing board of commuter railroad Metra and served on the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s board.

Since 1975, Oberman has maintained practiced law in Chicago as a trial and an appellate lawyer. The STB vice chairmanship rotates among members on an annual basis.