Western Coal Traffic League v. Surface Transportation Board, No. 20-1058 (D.C. Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Surface Transportation Board deadlocked 1–1–1 on what, if anything, to do about an existing rule governing rail carrier fuel surcharges. After five years with no majority position on how to proceed, the Board unanimously voted to discontinue its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the interest of administrative finality. The League argued that the Board acted unreasonably by deadlocking and that an impasse does not excuse an agency from issuing a well-reasoned merits decision that considers the relevant factors.
The D.C. Circuit dismissed the League’s appeal for lack of standing, The League did allege an injury-in-fact: The costs of shipping are supposedly too high. Causation is also easily established because the Board’s safe harbor provision, coupled with the Board’s failure to issue a rule that would modify or eliminate that provision, plausibly created the higher rates. But to satisfy the redressability requirement, the asserted injury must be “capable of resolution and likely to be redressed by judicial decision” and courts lack the power to issue an order to break the Board’s deadlock or to order any individual Board Member to change his policy position.