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11/14/2004

Railroad Astroturf Operation

The NYT follows up its article on the conflict of interest-ridden railroad industry regulators with a look at one of the astroturf organizations spawned by the industry to wage a PR campaign on its behalf. Union Pacific, the same rail operator that has taken advantage of close administration ties to foster a "partnership" approach to regulation, founded a non-profit, Operation Lifesaver, to inform drivers of the risks of railroad crossings. At first glance, that seems like an admirable public service; just below the surface, though, is a PR operation targeted at judges and police officers to convince them that the legal liability for railroad crossing accidents is born by the driver.

Industries that are willing to deceptively manipulate the legal system cannot be trusted with voluntary regulatory compliance.

Operation Lifesaver has a response to the article, laying out railroad accident statistics. It doesn't address the substantive allegations.

 

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