Senator Herb Kohl, D-Wis., introduced the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2006 last week to eliminate antitrust exemptions that protect freight railroads from competition.
Current anti-trust exemptions deny rail consumers antitrust protections that are available to consumers in virtually every other industry. Rail mergers and acquisitions are also exempt from antitrust law and are reviewed solely by the Surface Transportation Board.
The Kohl bill would eliminate these antitrust exemptions and allow the federal government, state attorney generals and private parties to file suit on anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions, and will put the review of mergers before the Justice Department's Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission. The bill would also eliminate the antitrust exemption for railroad collective rate making.
Kohl is the senior Democrat of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights panel. A similar House bill was introduced by Reps. Mark Green, R-Wis., and Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., last year.