AFPM challenges STB’s dismissal of tank car surcharge complaint

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers petitioned the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia to review the US Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) dismissal of the trade association’s complaint against BNSF Railway Co.’s surcharge on DOT-111 tanks cars carrying crude oil. AFPM considers the surcharge unlawful.

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers petitioned the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia to review the US Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) dismissal of the trade association’s complaint against BNSF Railway Co.’s surcharge on DOT-111 tanks cars carrying crude oil. AFPM considers the surcharge unlawful.

The Apr. 5 petition called STB’s action “unlawful, arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not otherwise in accordance with law.” It asked the court to vacate, enjoin, and set aside the order, and to provide any addition relief to which AFPM may be entitled.

Its original complaint said BNSF violated its common carrier obligation and attempted to alter the retrofit schedule, which the US Department of Transportation had approved, by imposing the surcharge.

“DOT, not the railroads, is tasked by Congress to establish tank car standards, so BNSF is overstepping its authority by penalizing shippers of oil for using the federally authorized DOT-111 tank cars,” AFPM Pres. Chet Thompson said as the petition was filed. “DOT has approved and deemed the cars safe for use, and a rail company can’t supplant the government’s decision.”

AFPM said STB incorrectly characterized AFPM’s complaint as a challenge to BNSF’s base rate, ignoring the US Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and BNSF’s public descriptions of the premium on DOT-111s as a separate surcharge.

“This surcharge harms our members and consumers, and there is little doubt that BNSF’s intent is to usurp DOT’s authority over tank car standards, something it should not be permitted to do,” Thompson said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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