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Chlorine Institute, Inc. v. Federal Rail Administration

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20126
Nos. 12-1298, (D.C. Cir., 06/11/2013)

The D.C. Circuit dismissed as unripe a trade association's lawsuit challenging portions of a Federal Rail Administration (FRA) rule that requires qualifying rail carriers to submit an implementation plan to install a "positive train control" (PTC) system no later than December 31, 2015, on certain tracks used for passenger service or for transporting "poison- or toxic-by-inhalation" hazardous (PIH) material. Under the rule, FRA will approve exclusion/removal requests upon a showing that, as of December 31, 2015, there will be no passenger service or PIH traffic on the tracks. The association challenged FRA's decision to omit from the rule a two-part risk assessment test a carrier had been required to meet to qualify for the exclusion/removal exception under two previous rules. But the association's claim is not ripe. It is simply unknown which track segments will be fitted with PTC under the plans that are submitted by carriers and ultimately approved by FRA—much less whether any association member's ability to ship PIH will be significantly affected. Nor has the association asserted any carrier has diminished—or is about to diminish—any individual member’s shipping ability—only that a carrier could do so. As the PTC implementation plan process advances and its impact becomes clearer, such an injury may indeed emerge and the association's challenge may thereby ripen. But at this stage, the challenge is not ripe and the court lacks jurisdiction.