BNSFÆs Rose named to White House jobs panel
U.S. President Barack Obama last week named Matt Rose, chairman and chief executive officer of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., to his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
The group of 22 private sector representatives will provide policy advice on ways to support innovative manufacturing efforts, infrastructure investment, worker training and other productivity initiatives.
The Council, as previously announced by the White House, is headed by Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric.
Rose served on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Review Study Commission, commissioned by Congress, that published recommendations in 2009 on new approaches to funding surface transportation infrastructure.
BNSF is parent company of BNSF Railway and BNSF Logistics.
As the government seeks Rose’s advice on how to make businesses more competitive, the railroad industry executive has been sharply critical of regulatory policies that he says shackle businesses with heavy costs that outweigh any benefits.
At a freight transportation conference last November, Rose criticized attempts by the Surface Transportation Board and Congress to reregulate the freight rail industry, and a Transportation Department safety rule that requires heavy investment in technology. Regulation targeted at railroads is part of a wider effort by the White House and Congress to expand government controls on business activity, he added.
The STB in May plans to hold hearings to assess rail competition and review traffic exemptions. The review is expected to explore many of the same issues that proposed Senate legislation seeks to address, especially involving shippers that are captive to a single railroad. The railroad industry has argued that mandating access to a second rail line for isolated locations undermines their ability to price services based on demand and that they would be unable to earn enough revenue to reinvest in their networks.
Among the issues the STB said it wants to explore are the financial state of the railroad industry, giving shippers alternative through routes for their cargo, access to terminal facilities, reciprocal switching agreements, bottleneck rates, access pricing, and the impact any changes might have on the railroad industry and shippers.
‘We look at the development of the intermodal product as a classic market-based approach without any government regulator sitting there trying to determine what prices we should charge each other. So, I think it’s just not really well thought out that somehow the bureaucratic system in Washington, D.C., is going to help determine where to put the next intermodal terminal and what prices should be paid for that,’ Rose said at the TransComp Exhibition and Intermodal Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
He called Federal Railroad Administration rules on positive train control ‘a $10-billion unfunded mandate.’ PTC systems are designed to automatically stop or slow trains to avoid accidents. The FRA has required railroads to install the technology on trains by 2015 on tracks that carry passengers or chemicals that are toxic by inhalation. The agency estimated it would cost $10 billion to $14 billion at net present value over the next 20 years while producing benefits of $440 million to $674 million. The rail industry says PTC doesn’t produce enough payoff in reduced accidents to justify the cost.
‘What we’ve seen is a lot of new regulation coming in. Some of it’s carryover from the previous administration, this administration. When you’re a regulator in Washington, D.C., you don’t come into your job thinking how much regulation can I get rid of?’ Rose said.
‘So what you do is you add onto the predecessor’s regulatory structure. And that’s why we’re seeing this plethora of new regulations,’ he added.
President Obama, in response to outcries from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others in the business community, in January ordered federal agencies to review regulations on the books and weed out ones that are outdated, redundant or unnecessarily burdensome, as long as the changes don’t undermine safety, public welfare, job creation or other goals.
Other appointees to the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness include:
‘ Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.
‘ Gary Kelly, chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines.
‘ Matt Gallogly, co-founder and managing principal of Centerbridge Partners, a private equity firm that owns Greatwide Logistics Services among other companies. ‘ Eric Kulisch