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you would really call a formal hearing. A lot of those cases, when we mentioned numbers
Senator HARTKE. In your opinion, are these important?
Commissioner MURPHY. Yes, sir; because a lot of them depend on very simple modification or changes that can be done that clarifies a certificate, or it expands the commercial zone, and things of that nature. They are very important not only to the carrier, but to the public, to know the type of service and the extent that it is being offered.
Senator HARTKE. Well, if they really are so important, why is it, then, that the Commission doesn't handle them, but permits employees to handle the issuance of these certificates!
Commissioner MURPHY. I just got through stating to you on our boards that we have established they handle a tremendous number of them. The Commission couldn't begin–11 of us couldn't begin to handle each and every one of them and give it the type of attention that some of the cases require. Senator HARTKE. Are they ever reviewed !
ommissioner MURPHY. Yes, sir; the law providesSenator HARTKE. No; I'm not talking about a required review. I'm talking about the type of review where the staff itself has the Commission looking over its shoulder instead of the staff looking over the shoulder of the Commission.
Commissioner MURPHY. Well, I think-and I think I speak for the Commission-we look over quite a few shoulders. But you get back to your provision, and it started out at one time where the carriers had authority to haul shipments weighing 10,000 pounds or more, 20,000 pounds or more. The Commission was reviewing that, and the Commission just here in the last few years eliminated that provision from the certificates. And we are continually trying to clarify and change certificates to meet changing conditions, and to clarify and make a more understandable and better service to the public. So it is a continuing thing. There is nothing dormant about it.
Senator HARTKE. Moving to another field, on page 123 of your report you have indicated that there is a proposed rule which would allow carriers of hazardous materials to use the nearest direct route. Are there any carriers doing that at the present time? Are any carriers allowed to do that now?
Commissioner MURPHY. Handling by the most
Senator HARTKE. That is what you are proposing. You say they are allowed to?
Commissioner MURPHY. What page are you on? Senator HARTKE. 123. [Reading:] With respect to transportation of dangerous explosives, as a result of a petition filed by interested State auth ies the Commission on February 12 issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in number MCC-6168, regulations governing the transportation in interstate or foreign commerce of hazardous materials by motor vehicle over direct routes. The proposed rule would permit for-hire motor carriers of hazardous materials to utilize the nearest direct route in the movement of such materials from origin to destination as approved by State and local authorities in lieu of operations over routes presently authorized which in some circumstances might be circuitous. Statements of position have been solicited and are now being received from various interested parties.
My question is, Are any carriers allowed to do that at the present time?
Commissioner MURPHY. Yes, sir; under temporary authority. If they have a permanent application to modify the present certificate, they are permitted to come in with a temporary authority application and get permission to do that, and we cooperate with the States and municipalities in doing that in an effort to keep the hazardous materials and explosives out of populated areas, and to avoid-and some of this develops after a certificate is granted. A territory may become quite populated, and they have a certificate that specifies a route over which they must travel, a highway number indicating that, and I know of no instance where the Commission has arbitrarily, or didn't give more or less expeditious handling of any application of that kind that came to its attention everywhere they asked for authority to change it.
Senator HARTKE. How long did a decision on this proposed rule take?
Commissioner MURPHY. Well, I am not familiar what the present status of it is, but after the period of time for the interested parties to file their statements, then it most likely will be given to an examiner to analyze the material and no doubt prepare a recommended report for the Commission, who then will take and go through it individually and with the staff, from which a decision will be issued. So it will depend on the volume of response we get to it, Senator.
Senator HARTKE. Have you taken into consideration in regard to this whether or not the most direct route would necessarily avoid the most highly populated areas or those areas which could present the greatest danger to the greatest number in case of an explosion?
Commissioner MURPHY. That is what this is for.
Senator HARTKE. No; as I read it, it does not say that. In just says to take the most direct route, allow them to take the most direct route. Let me ask you if I am correct, if I am interpreting what your thinking is, that this rule allows the carriers to take any route that the State will give authority for it to move on? Is that what you are telling me?
Commissioner MURPHY. No, we are trying to avoid the thickly populated areas where it is more dangerous for him to operate, if he can avoid that. The States have some control over the movement of hazardous and dangerous articles; for example, through tunnels and all, that the State sets up those, or the municipality. And what this rulemaking here is for, if the State approves—and it may be confused the way it is worded-but where the State sets forth or the city sets forth the route or the street over which they will permit his type of commodity to move, that may be the most direct route through that particular area that they will permit, and that is what we are trying to work out in cooperation with the State.
Senator HARTKE. Well, if it is really that important, instead of allowing them why don't you direct them? Why don't you say in the rulemaking "direct them to take," make it mandatory instead of permissive if you are dealing with hazardous materials?
Commissioner Murphy. I can tell you on that, when you go to directing them and changing certificates under the present provisions of the act you can get tied up in court procedure and everything as to where he doesn't want to give it up. If we permit him to do it then he
will not be in violation of anything if the city or the county when he reaches the boundary there directs him to follow this highway through downtown but take the circuitous route.
Senator HARTKE. Commissioner, I did not understand, if you direct him you run into what? What do we run into? What is the difficulty? I didn't understand that. You said that if you direct him to go
ahead and take the most direct route or the route which avoids the most populated areas. What if you directed him to take that route in any shipment involving hazardous materials?
Commissioner MURPHY. Well, one of these involved a safety feature. Of course, that is controlled by DOT or the safety part, and the cities. When you go to direct him to change the route that has been established and used we can very well-if we cancel out that and direct him to do it, we could create some conditions there that would be difficult.
Senator HARTKE. I don't understand.
Commissioner MURPHY. Well, let me answer it this way. Allowing him to take the route is when the State authority or the county or city or municipality or DOT, whoever it might be, directs him that they will not permit him to come within the boundary of a particular zone, he does not have to get permission to deviate from his route. We will have allowed him to observe that and go right on with his shipment. Now that is what it means. It will not leave him in a position today to take out down through the middle of the city and tomorrow if he changes his mind and wants to go the other, it permits him to abide by the local regulations as to handling those commodities. That is what it really means.
Senator HARTKE. I understand that. We are faced with an increasing number of these cases, as you well know, and I grant you that the ICC does not have safety jurisdiction as such. Is that what is operating here, one in safety and one on route Government agencies
? Commissioner MURPHY. No; I don't think that. The safety is just one of the features you have to consider in granting a certificate. But, Senator, the thing on this, we are trying to cooperate, and the permissive use of the route which is offered here as established or which he is certified on is so he can immediately cooperate with the State and go right on. Now there may be other instances in that same district where under certain conditions they will permit him to go through the one he has now in order not to be too far out of route or create some situation that would be impossible to comply with. And this eliminates the need of individual cases on individual certificates without turning to those carriers handling hazardous materials.
Commissioner Jackson. Senator, may I say a word on this?
Commissioner JACKSON. I think this entire question is a question of granting an applicant authority to carry hazardous materials or dangerous materials from point A to point B. This is what his authority from us is going to consist. It certainly would seem the better part of reason and logic to allow municipalities, subdivisions of local government to determine between point A and point B where their welfare lies, where their safety lies, and to allow them some flexibility. In other words, I don't think the Commission should say "go into town A, go right on Third Street to the city limits and left on the city limits for 5 miles to the railroad track, turn left and go 3 miles.”
3 The people in that community, it would appear to me, Senator, are much better able to determine where their welfare and their safety lies within the context of the authority which has been granted by the Commission. And it seems to me that what we are simply doing is permitting the maximum cooperation with the local subdivisions of government in making that determination within the limits of the authority granted by the Commission.
Senator HARTKE. In the movement of these hazardous substances I believe that we are going to come to a place where somebody is going to give more direction
then there has been in the past. This is true simply because in many cases the local authorities are completely unaware, uninformed, and never notified of the movement of some of these materials. They don't even know they are coming through.
Commissioner MURPHY. They would know it from the marked equipment.
Senator HARTKE. They don't have inspectors out there. The equipment will be marked, but they don't have these inspectors out there. I have been a mayor and
Commissioner MURPHY. They don't have to have inspectors out there. If they pass an ordinance the carrier has a responsibility of being familiar with that on the route he is serving.
Senator HARTKE. We are in a whole new field here. This material is not all nerve gas as is involved in some other cases. What I am talking about are commercial items which are being used commonly in commercial enterprises today, which are being shipped in increasing amounts, and with which we are having a higher incidence of difficulty.
Commissioner MURPHY. Senator, this borders right on what I think I was touching on yesterday. I won't be argumentative about it, but I am sure that I can say this: that the reason for this very rulemaking proceeding here is as a result of individual applications that we have had from time-to-time, that we have come to the conclusion that we ought to see if we can't make a general rule and clear the situation up.
Senator HARTKE. For that I think you are right, and I compliment
All right, let's go ahead. At page 134, in your discussion there of the agriculture cooperative rules that have recently been promulgated, I find no reference to the Department of Defense involvement. Is there any evidence that the Department of Defense intends to cooperate in enforcement of that rule?
Commissioner TIERNEY. If the law passes, of course, they will know they will be compelled to comply with the provisions of this law as to agricultural cooperatives. In other words, the cooperative would ship for nonmembers a specified amount, and it would include the U.S. Government. The Government may ship under the provisions of that law, but when you exceed the specified amount no nonmember can ship it. The cooperative itself then would be violating the limitations placed on it as to shipments for nonmembers.
We have had cases where because of these limitations that have been placed on the cooperatives for nonmembers, Mr. Chairman, we have
you for it.
had applications from cooperatives for authority to ship which have been supported by the Department of Defense.
Senator HARTKE. Yes, I know. Then does that exempt them?
Senator HARTKE. No, I am talking about the fact that the Depart. ment of Defense has moved into the operation. Is there any indication that they are going to comply? Are they required to comply?
Commissioner TIERNEY. They will have to comply, sir, and if we don't grant the cooperative authority
Senator HARTKE. Even though it is shipped by the Department of Defense you can go ahead and prohibit it?
Commissioner TIERNEY. Oh, yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Commissioner MURPHY. What the Commission would do there is move against the carrier that is caught performing it, not the Defense Department. So the carrier would be prohibited from it, and there have been times when they have been enjoined by the courts on such practices.
GENERAL RATE INCREASES
Senator HARTKE. We will go to the section on general rate increases now. I don't know who we talk to. Who do we talk to, Chairman Brown?
Mrs. Brown. Commissioner Walrath, chairman of division 2.
This is an area which is very vital to the consumer. One of the problems here is the fight against inflation and the attempt to keep prices down. Just how much attention is given to the consumer, to the public in general, as contrasted to the shippers and to the carriers in this field? Who represents the public interest in the proceedings before the Interstate Commerce Commission?
Commissioner WALRATH. Well, I should say that responsibility for representing the public interests first rests upon the Commission itself, and that is in the absence of the consumer representative as touched on yesterday. In that connection, Senator, as you know, there have been a number of proposals in the years past that a consumer counsel should be designated by law. The Commission is not opposed to those proposals. We have felt that our own sense of responsibility had met the needs of the consumer as such.
I mentioned yesterday, and I will mention again solely to point out our consciousness of this, the fact that in the recent nationwide bus case, which comes as close to the consumer as anything that has recently come up, even despite the lack of protest, the Commission instituted a nationwide investigation and placed a heavy burden of proof upon the carriers to justify an increase in existing rates. We were aware and took the responsibility of protecting the individual rider in that respect because he wasn't represented, and the only major protestant in there, the Public Service Commission of Pennsylvania, had withdrawn its opposition at the division level.