Contact: Janie Sheng (202) 245-0221
10/07/2009 (Wednesday)
Eric Weiss
No. 09-27

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Surface Transportation Board Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III announced today that the Board will begin holding public oral arguments in major cases.

The oral arguments will give parties an opportunity to directly address the Board and allow Board members a chance to ask questions before making a decision. The format will be similar to oral arguments held in federal appellate courts. While the proceedings will be open to the public, only counsel for the parties will be allowed to present argument.

"This is another way to demystify the process," said Elliott, who has made bringing additional openness and transparency to STB decision-making a priority. "Hearing from parties directly and having the opportunity to ask them questions will help us make better decisions."

Elliott, who was appointed STB Chairman by President Obama in July, said he plans to review other Board policies and procedures to make sure they are as inclusive and open as possible. Chairman Elliott said he plans to make oral arguments a regular part of the Board's decision process on selected cases. He also plans to overhaul the Board's Web site,, to make more information more readily available to stakeholders and the public.

"We are doing the public's business and the public should be able to quickly and easily learn what we are doing,'' Elliott said.

The first scheduled oral argument will be on Oct. 27 at 9:30 a.m. at STB headquarters at 395 E Street SW in Washington. The Board will hear argument in Entergy Arkansas, Inc. and Entergy Services, Inc. v. Union Pacific Railroad Company and Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad Company, Inc., STB Docket No. 42104 and DesertXpress Enterprises, LLC—Petition for Declaratory Order, STB Finance Docket No. 34914.

The Board has also scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 23, but a list of cases to be argued then has not been finalized.