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Mr. SPRINGER. Mr. Bloom, are you a member, or the chairman of your State commission?
Mr. BLOOM. I am the chairman of the commission and I am not a lifelong regulator. I came to the commission in May, I believe, of 1965, and prior to that time was secretary to the Commonwealth.
Mr. SPRINGER. Is the president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners now a chairman of the commission in Illinois ?
Mr. Bloom. Yes, he is. Ile is in Philaclelphia this morning making a speech. He is up in Pennsylvania.
Mr. SPRINGER. He is a very capable man. He and I were in the same law school class. I have a high regard for him. We are not of the same party. He is a man possessing the finest qualities,
Mr. Bloom. We get along fine. I happen to be of the other political party than Jim and we have a very fine relationship. In fact, all the commissioners—we don't operate on the basis of our party affiliation. I happen to have been a Republican State chairman in Pennsylvania for a good many years and we never think of that in connection with our regulatory functions.
Mr. SPRINGER. I believe that is generally true in the country, at least those requests have been made to this committee by your association through the years in that connection.
According to the way I read your appendix, NARUC has three amendments. Is that correct?
Vir. Buoom. Yes, sir.
Mr. SPRINGER. Now, I notice that you have quoted the President on page 12 of announcing an objective of achieving a total working partnership between the Federal and State governments. Well, I take the President at his word. However, when these administrators come down here--bureaucrats, whatever you want to call them-I find that it does not turn out to be what I would consider a partnership. It turns out to be a partnership if or but. In other words, if they don't like what you do, the regulation they put into effect shall prevail.
Do you understand what I mean!
Mr. SPRINGER. Now, this is the part that disturbs me to a great extent. If you are going to have a partnership, I want to be sure that that is exactly what we do have.
Now, in vour amendments, at page 2 of the amendments, (c) at the bottom of the page:
No statutory regulation affecting safety in rail commerce, now or hereafter adopted, shall be nullified by this Act unless it is in conflict with a standard prescribed by the Secretary under this Act.
Is that a partnership? Mr. Bloom. No; it is not a partnership, but we were thinking about what we could get passed and what we could get written into the bill.
Mr. SPRINGER. I am glad you said that because I thought that is what you meant.
Mr. Bloom. We felt as a practical proposition that we were faced with that situation, and that if we were going to get any jurisdiction left in the State commissions someone had to call the final shots. It is not what we would like.
Mr. SPRINGER. We have had this up before, Mr. Bloom. In some instances, we have said in essence that where a commission has as good regulations, the Federal Government shall not preempt the State.
How do like that approach?
Mr. Bloom. I like it and I like the concept of the Hinshaw amendment in the Natural Gas Act in which a State certifies that it has taken jurisdiction, and is enforcing that jurisdiction, that the Federal Gorernment cannot take jurisdiction.
But we have found any attempt to write the Hinshaw concept into law is just an uphill job and we have not been able to get anywhere, so we are trying to do the next best thing.
Mr. SPRINGER. All right.
I am glad you put all this in the record because this is what I want to know.
What you wanted is what you thought you could get; that is why we are having this hearing.
Mr. Bloom. I want to be perfectly frank with you and I think that is what you want me to be.
Mr. SPRINGER. That is exactly what I wanted to know.
Do you believe that the amendment that you have written on the first page of your appendix beginning "Federal-State cooperation," section 4, all the way through over to and including the middle of page 5, will give you truly what the President has mentioned here as a total working partnership between the Federal and State Governments ?
Your counsel can answer if he is more expert in this field. Mr. Bloom. I can answer with my own opinion and then I would like to have counsel answer it.
My own opinion is that does not make us a full-fledged partnership or a full-fledged partner as I would like to see it.
On the other hand, I can envision the difficulties in trying to work it out so that no one would have the final say in the last analysis. Somebody has got to have the final say.
Mr. SPRINGER. All right.
The main thing that disturbs us about the administration bill is that it calls for virtually a total preemption of the regulation of rail safety by the Federal Government.
Now, in section 4, they identify about four areas in which they say we are still going to have Federal regulation in these four areas but we will permit State regulation in those four very limited areas to the extent it does not conflict with our regulations.
Now, we think that throws out the window all the expertise and all of the staff that the State commissions have built up. We think if you are going to approve a broad bill you should certainly try to salvage everything that the State commissions have done and will be able to do in the future.
I agree with your observation, Congressman Springer, that our proposed language would not be a true partnership and it would give the Federal Government the ultimate authority to lay down such standards as it deems appropriate.
Mr. SPRINGER. Mr. Chairman, on page 5, you have suggested a National Railroad Safety Advisory Committee. Now, in this are you attempting to establish bilaterally what you more nearly believe to be a true State-Federal relation?
Mr. Bloom. We are trying to establish that in promulgating the various rules on safety that the industry will be represented and be heard and they will have the benefit of that. We would like to have labor, the brotherhoods, represented on that committee because they have a great knowledge of matters that ought to be considered.
We think that the regulatory bodies throughout the 50 States ought to have a right to make recommendations as to the people who would be there representing the regulatory bodies to make suggestions. It falls somewhat short, of course, because the Secretary can listen to all three groups and then disregard everything that the three groups would suggest to him, but it is the best that could be done so that they would have an opportunity to be heard before any regulation was adopted.
Mr. SPRINGER. Right now you have on page 7, No. 2, again, about line 6. One of your powers of this Board would be "to review, prior to issuance.” We are going to run into the Secretary on that because I have had him on the stand about this "prior” to doing anything and he does not want to do that; he wants to issue the regulation and let you comment on it.
There is a lot of difference between consulting with you prior to issuance, and issuing and asking for the comments.
Mr. Bloom. It is like the old judge said, “Let's give them a fair trial before we hang them."
Mr. SPRINGER. Right.
Standards proposed to be issued prior to issuance, standards proposed to be issued by the Secretary under the provisions of this act.
You would also have the power in this Board to make recommendations as to whether or not this does meet the specific problem; is that correct?
Mr. Bloom. Yes, sir.
Mr. SPRINGER. That is what you are seeking to do by this Board; right? Mr. BLOOM. That is correct; yes.
Mr. SPRINGER. Then the recommendation shall be published with the Secretary's determination or prior to his determination? I am not sure when you say “in connection with the Secretary's determination."
Mr. Bloom. That would be published with his determination.
Now, this language here parallels the Advisory Board setup for the Federal Highway
Safety Act which was passed in 1966. Mr. SPRINGER. I am sorry; I am not sure I understand.
Mr. BLOOM. This Board that we propose here is very similar to the Board established by Congress in the Federal Highway Safety Act of 1966.
Mr. SPRINGER. I had forgotten that. That was before the Committee on Public Works and that is the reason we would not know about it.
In short, these are the recommendations which you make at this time with the qualifications which you have already given of trying to establish a true partnership between the Federal Government and State Government in railway safety?
Mr. BLOOM. Yes, sir.
Mr. Bloom, if H.R. 16980 is enacted into law as it is now written, would that put you and your State commission out of business insofar as railroad safety is concerned !
Mr. Bloom. It would put us out of business so far as railroad safety is concerned except in section 4 where they say:
A State may regulate safety in rail commerce, in a manner which does not conflict with any Federal regulation, in the following areas, and no others; (1) vertical and horizontal clearance requirements; (2) grade crossing protection (including grade separation) which relates to the location of new crossings, closing of existing crossings, the type of crossing protection required or permitted, and rules governing train blocking crossings; (3) the speed and audible signals of trains while operating within urban and other densely populated areas.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Stop right there,
Mr. Bloom. The rest of it does not amount to anything; that is, spur tracks don't mean anything so it is really those three things that would be left to us.
Of course, the one carrying a lot of cost of money to the Commonwealth and to the States is this grade crossing, and they leave us the burden of taking care of grade crossings which is a rather expensive thing for State.
So, we would continue to have that part which costs a lot of money.
Mr. KORNEGAY. That area is always a headache so far as the State commission is concerned, or the railroad is concerned, as is the general public.
Mr. Bloom. Yes.
Vr. KORNEGAY. Now, (3), "the speed and audible signals of trains while operating within urban and other densely populated areas" ; just for the sake of this problem, suppose that the Federal regulation called for a 15-mile-an-hour speed limit in certain areas but the local commission or the State commission thought it ought to be 10, that is, 5 miles less. What would be the situation the way the bill is written?
Mr. Bloom. The way the bill is written, our regulation which conflicts with the Department of Transportation, it would prevail.
Our regulation would mean nothing because they start out by saying the State may regulate safety in a manner which does not conflict with any Federal regulation. So, if they had placed a regulation on the speed of a train as it enters a station or at some location and we feel that that is not sufficient under our police power to protect the life and property of the people of our State and we say 10 miles is fast enough and we don't think it should be faster, our regulation would be invalid according to this act as I interpret it.
Mr. KORNEGAY. In other words, you would interpret that example as being one in conflict, that is, as being different from that prescribed by the Federal regulation. Mr. Bloom. Yes.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Your term would be in conflict.
Mr. BLOOM. Yes, sir. That is the way I have interpreted it, and I have asked counsel if he so interprets it and he said “Yes."
Mr. KORNEGAY. I have no further questions.
Mr. Bloom, I gather that the gist of what you told Mr. Kornegay just a minute ago relative to section 4 is that if the Department of Transportation chooses by their regulation that they can' also exclude everything that is listed under section 4.
Mr. Bloom. I would say they could. Mr. HARVEY. That is my interpretation, also. Mr. Bloom. We could take jurisdiction in these areas provided we did what they said we could do. If we didn't want to do what they laid down in their regulations, then we could not pass anything that was in conflict with that.
Mr. HARVEY. That is my interpretation, also.
Now, Mr. Bloom when Mr. Lang, the FRA Administrator, was here, he made some statements on page 10 of his testimony that I just would like to read to you. He said:
Few State regulatory agencies have had the manpower or funds moreover to conduct major rail safety programs.
Then he went on to list the States which had been active, and I noted that he did not include the State of Pennsylvania that had been active in a rail safety program.
Mr. Bloom. He didn't?
Would you concur with that statement that few State regulatory agencies have had the manpower or funds to conduct major rail safety programs?
Mr. Bloom. I don't know what other States have done but I think that our State has been one of the best. I think New York, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, California-I am talking about-I am familiar with those States; I think they have done pretty good jobs in connection with safety.
But to enumerate the 50 States, I could not enumerate what all they do.
Mr. HARVEY. Let me just ask you this question.
Mr. HARVEY. He goes on to enumerate the States that have been
Mr. Bloom. We have 16 engineers and that is not counting the stenographic help and all of the other people who contribute and give time to the railroad division of our commission.
But there are 16 engineers and safety inspectors that are called upon. I said in my written statement, compare that with 150 that DOT has all over the United States with 50 States to work with, and we have 16 engineers and safety inspectors in the State of Pennsylvania alone.