As the school year wraps up for many across the country and we commence our summer activities, we begin the season with a somber day set aside to remember soldiers fallen in combat in America’s wars and to honor veterans who have lost comrades in America’s struggle to protect life and liberty.
Our transportation systems and infrastructure go hand-in-hand. That’s no secret. One can’t happen without the other. Unless we start to seriously prioritize both, American businesses and taxpayers will end up fronting the cost.
Since taking over as President and CEO of NACD in 2014, I have marveled at the ability of the Class I railroads to increase their fees to the shipper and receiver community at staggering rates with little or no fuss from most on Capitol Hill and the regulatory agencies. The escalating fees call into question the competitive nature of the industry and fairness when it comes to how small businesses are to work with the larger Class I railroads. Compounding matters more, consolidation of the major railroads has reduced access to rail service for most shippers and receivers to just one railroad. This dire situation for rail customers has been exacerbated by the advent and implementation of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which has created enormous delays and service issues.
Meeting face-to-face with legislators is the most effective way to get your message heard on Capitol Hill, and Fly-In participation by our members – the constituents of the legislators NACD works with throughout the year – is critical to advancing the day-to-day work NACD does here in Washington. And there’s still plenty for us to accomplish this year.
As our members recently saw, the association and its industry partners were successful in securing a short-term extension to keep the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program going past January 18, 2019.
Chemical distributors depend on reliable, competitive rail service to deliver products to customers in nearly every industry sector. Unfortunately, the railroad industry is currently a near-monopoly with only four rail providers controlling 90 percent of the traffic regulated by outdated policies that hinder competition and fair service.
I have received a number of emails and calls from members in the wake of Tuesday night’s midterm elections asking what the results will mean to chemical distributors. It’s a tough question to answer at this early stage, but there are a couple observations I believe will prove telling over the next two years as we embark upon the 2020 presidential election year.
Last spring, I drafted a blog advocating for Congress to approve a long-term authorization bill for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) that is set to expire January 19, 2019. The impetus for the piece was for Congress not to wait until the very end of the year when the mid-term elections could politicize what is a bipartisan legislative measure. Unfortunately, that very scenario is now taking place, but successful approval of a long-term reauthorization bill is still possible with your help.
On the heels of an NACD economic analysis showing that approximately $5 billion worth of the chemicals U.S. chemical distributors import will be impacted by the China Section 301 List 3 tariffs, most of those tariffs went into effect earlier this week.
Hurricane season is certainly upon us. Just as the Gulf Coast recovers from Tropical Storm Gordon, the East Coast is preparing for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to make landfall within the next day or so. While Florence may be the first hurricane to hit the mainland United States in what has been a relatively quiet hurricane season until now, we remember all too well the enormous damage done by Harvey, Irma, and Maria last year. September is historically the most active month for hurricanes, and as the East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence, it is as vital as ever to be prepared in case disaster strikes.