USDA Grain Transportation Report (1/26): STB Responds to Midwest Lawmakers’ Complaints About UP Embargo

According to today's USDA Grain Transportation Report, from December 29 to January 25, in response to “severe weather,” Union Pacific (UP) placed a temporary embargo on its service to Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

However, in a January 13 letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB), eight Midwest lawmakers questioned UP’s justification for the embargo and called for its immediate end. They noted UP had managed to provide service in previous winters with similar conditions.

The lawmakers’ letter marks the most recent in a string of complaints alleging that UP has made excessive, unjustified use of embargoes to mitigate congestion on its network. (STB held a hearing on the issue in December, responding to previous complaints.)

On January 18, the STB Chair responded to the lawmakers’ letter, stating “the Board is deeply aware of UP’s service shortfalls and ...will continue to hold UP accountable with respect to its plans to lift not only the current embargo, but to address its general use of embargoes to manage its operations.”

On January 20, STB denied UP’s request to withhold from the public any documents submitted in response to the December embargo hearing. Instead, citing a need for transparency, STB required UP to submit public versions of the documents with any confidential commercial information redacted.