Bill filed to end freight rail antitrust exemption

“Many of Louisiana’s unique businesses rely on efficient shipping using railroads, and our bill will ensure they are not punished with higher rates, especially those in more rural areas or areas suffering from higher rail captivity,” Vitter added.

The introduction of the legislation was cheered on Thursday by shippers.

“The purpose of the nation’s anti-trust laws is to ensure competitive markets," Consumers United for Rail Equity President Steve Sharp said in a statement. 

"No American industry other than Major League Baseball enjoys such a broad exemption from our nation’s anti-trust laws, which has led to a lack of competition in the national freight rail system that has hurt American producers and manufacturers, local communities, American workers and the national economy," Sharp continued. "Consumers ultimately pay the freight for railroad monopoly power in terms of inflated prices for electricity, food and the goods they purchase.”

The lobbying group for freight rail companies, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), said the bill would make unnecessary changes to existing laws.

“This bill proposes sweeping changes that would negatively impact this country’s freight rail industry,” AAR President Edward Hamberger said in a statement. 

“Sections of this bill are designed to override existing regulatory decisions and could potentially roll back government-approved transactions in railroad history," Hamberger continued. "That retroactive application would inevitably create conflicts and uncertainty for railroads, railroad customers and courts. The resulting regulatory uncertainty could undermine the private freight railroads’ ability to sustain necessary and critical private investments in America’s rail infrastructure."

-This story was updated with new information at 5:53 p.m.