Ann D. Begeman took her post as a member of the Surface Transportation Board, in time to be ready for a crucial hearing on whether the rail regulatory agency should begin to alter longstanding carrier competition and shipper access rules.
Begeman confirmed by the Senate April 14 and sworn in May 2, the STB said. She comes to the board from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that oversees the STB.
On the board she joins Democratic appointees Francis P. Mulvey and Chairman Daniel R. Elliott. She replaces Charles D. Nottingham in the Republican board seat, and takes office as vice chairman, a role that rotates each year among the two remaining board members.
Begeman's Capitol Hill staff experience includes work on major transportation legislation, including the act that created the STB and the 2009-10 effort by Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., to enact a major overhaul of rail regulation. His bill won broad bipartisan support in committee, but railroads solidly opposed it until it died last year.
As that congressional effort was winding down, Elliott said he was prepared to have the STB directly consider altering its regulatory stance, acting on its own authority. On June 22, it will hold a public hearing on railroad industry competition, in what some observers say could be a first step toward a fundamental tightening of rail regulation.
President Obama nominated Begeman for the post on Dec. 20, 2010, then again on Jan. 5, under the new Congress. She was confirmed by the Senate April 14, for a term that expires Dec. 31, 2015.