As the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee drafts major legislation to overhaul government regulations on the transportation industry, railroad companies are speeding up their lobbying efforts to rollback regulations on the business.
Since 2007, railroads, affiliated companies and industry trade groups have spent more than $152 million on federal lobbying, according to a report to be released Thursday by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
CREW's report points to news reports that indicated Osama bin Laden thought trains made good targets for a possible terrorist attack and contrasts that with the railroad industry's efforts to reduce the frequency of locomotive inspections and place a cap on their liability when carrying substances labeled as Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) materials.
The report finds that at least four former members of Congress -- two of whom have sons currently serving on the railroad subcommittee -- are lobbying on the legislation and that contributions from the railroad industry to current committee members jumped over 25 percent between 2008 and 2010.
The two former members of the Transportation Committee with sons currently serving on the committee are Rep. Bud Shuster (R-PA) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), said CREW:
Former Rep. Bud Shuster (R-PA), who once chaired the committee, lobbies for the Association of American Railroads and is the father of the current Rep. Shuster. His firm, Strategic Advisors, has reaped $390,000 in lobbying fees from the account since 2007, and he is the only lobbyist the firm has registered on the association's behalf. Former Rep. William Lipinski (D-IL), the father of Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) has made $866,000 lobbying for the Association of American Railroads and Burlington Northern since 2007. The current Rep. Lipinski, a member of the railroad subcommittee, has said his father does not lobby him.
Late update: Here's the full report.