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TRANS ALASKA PIPELINE RATE CASES *FN*

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


decided: June 6, 1978.

TRANS ALASKA PIPELINE RATE CASES*FN*

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT.

Brennan, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all other Members joined, except Powell, J., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the cases.

Author: Brennan

[ 436 U.S. Page 633]

 MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The primary question presented in these cases is whether the Interstate Commerce Commission is authorized by § 15 (7) of the Interstate Commerce Act, as added, 36 Stat. 552, and amended, 49 U. S. C. § 15 (7),*fn1 to suspend initial tariff schedules of an interstate carrier subject to Part I of the Act, 24 Stat. 379, as amended, 49 U. S. C. §§ 1-27 (1970 ed. and Supp. V). In addition, we are asked to decide whether, if the Commission is so authorized, it has additional authority summarily to fix maximum interim tariff rates which will be allowed to go into effect during the suspension period and to require carriers filing tariffs containing such rates, as a further condition of nonsuspension, to refund any amounts collected which are ultimately found to be unlawful. We hold that the Commission has statutory authority to suspend initial tariff schedules and that it has power ancillary to that authority to establish maximum interim rates and associated regulations -- including refund provisions -- as it has done in these cases.

[ 436 U.S. Page 634]

     I

In 1968, massive reservoirs of oil were discovered at Prudhoe Bay in the Alaskan Arctic. Two years later plans crystallized to build a pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to the all-weather port of Valdez on Alaska's Pacific coast. After protracted environmental litigation was ended by special Act of Congress,*fn2 construction of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) began in 1974. In May and June 1977, seven of the eight owners of TAPS,*fn3 anticipating completion of TAPS in mid-1977, filed tariffs with the Interstate Commerce Commission*fn4 setting out the rules and rates governing transportation

[ 436 U.S. Page 635]

     of oil over TAPS. These rates were met immediately by formal protests*fn5 from the State of Alaska,*fn6 the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation,*fn7 the United States Department of Justice,*fn8 and the Commission's Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement.*fn9

Acting pursuant to § 15 (7) of the Interstate Commerce Act, the Commission*fn10 found that the protests lodged against the

[ 436 U.S. Page 636]

     TAPS tariffs gave it "reason to believe the proposed rates are not just and reasonable." Trans Alaska Pipeline System, 355 I. C. C. 80, 81 (1977) (TAPS). In support of this conclusion, it cited the protestants' arguments that the filed rates allowed excessive returns on capital*fn11 and that the cost data provided by the carriers were overstated.*fn12 Dismissing the TAPS carriers' argument that § 15 (7) gave the Commission no power to suspend initial rates, the Commission suspended the TAPS rates for the full seven months allowed by law, see 355 I. C. C., at 81-82, citing protestants' showing of "probable unlawfulness," id., at 81, and the Commission's concern that "maintenance of excessively high rates could act as a deterrent or an obstacle to the use of the pipeline by nonaffiliated oil producers, and would also delay the Alaskan interests in obtaining revenues that depend upon the well-head price of the oil." Id., at 82.

On the other hand, the Commission found that it would not be in the public interest if TAPS had to close for a seven-month period. Id., at 83. Accordingly, "[accepting] the basic data supplied by the carriers" as true, ibid., the Commission

[ 436 U.S. Page 637]

     applied what it stated to be its traditional rate-of-return calculation*fn13 to compute new rates that approximated what full investigation would likely reveal to be lawful rates*fn14 and it stated that it would not suspend interim tariffs which specified rates no higher than those estimated. See id., at 83-86. However, since the estimated rates might still "exceed reasonable levels," the Commission stated that any interim tariffs must provide for refunds of any amounts later determined to be in excess of lawful rates. Id., at 86.*fn15

Four pipeline owners, petitioners here,*fn16 filed a petition for review of the Commission's suspension order in the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That court determined: (1) that the Commission had the statutory authority to suspend

[ 436 U.S. Page 638]

     an initial tariff as well as changes in tariffs; (2) that it had authority ancillary to the suspension power to set out, without an adjudicatory hearing, maximum interim rates which it would allow to go into effect during the suspension period; and (3) that it had authority to condition a decision not to suspend tariffs on a requirement that carriers whose tariffs were allowed to go into effect be prepared to make refunds of any amounts collected -- whether under initially proposed or interim tariffs -- which were later determined (after full hearing) to be unlawful. Mobil Alaska Pipeline Co. v. United States, 557 F.2d 775 (1977).

Petitioners sought review in this Court and filed applications for a stay of the Commission's suspension order, all relief having been denied by the Fifth Circuit. On October 20, 1977, we granted the applications for a stay, 434 U.S. 913, and we issued a supplemental stay order on November 14, 1977. 434 U.S. 949. Thereafter we granted certiorari to consider the three issues decided by the Court of Appeals. 434 U.S. 964. We affirm.*fn17

[ 436 U.S. Page 639]

     II

By the Act of Sept. 18, 1940, ch. 722, Tit. I, § 1, 54 Stat. 899, note preceding 49 U. S. C. § 1, Congress declared the National Transportation Policy of the United States to be "to encourage the establishment and maintenance of reasonable charges for transportation services." Part I of the Interstate Commerce Act, 24 Stat. 379, as amended, 49 U. S. C. §§ 1-27 (1970 ed. and Supp. V), which applies to common carriers by rail and pipeline, is one vehicle by which the National Transportation Policy is carried into effect. Under the Act as passed in 1887, however, the role of the Commission in establishing "reasonable charges" was circumscribed. Although § 1 of the Act provided that "[all] charges made for any service rendered or to be rendered in the transportation of passengers or property . . . shall be reasonable and just; and every unjust and unreasonable charge for such service is prohibited and declared to be unlawful," 24 Stat. 379, this Court early held that the Commission had no authority to set charges, but could only determine if charges set by the carriers were unreasonable or unjust in the context of granting reparations to injured shippers. See ICC v. Cincinnati, N. O. & T. P. R. Co., 167 U.S. 479 (1897); 1 I. Sharfman, The Interstate Commerce Commission 25-27 (1931) (hereinafter Sharfman).

[ 436 U.S. Page 640]

     In 1906, Congress passed the Hepburn Act, 34 Stat. 584, which, inter alia, augmented the Commission's authority to condemn existing rates as unjust or unreasonable by adding express authority to set maximum rates to be observed by carriers in the future. See 49 U. S. C. § 15. Under the Hepburn Act, however, the Commission could not issue an order affecting a rate until it had become effective. This feature of the Hepburn Act was immediately recognized by the Commission as a major defect. See Sharfman 51 n. 50. It meant that the only relief against unreasonable rates lay in the reparations remedy and this could not provide a satisfactory solution:

"In many cases the damage suffered through loss of competitive advantage far exceeds the difference between the rate actually charged and that found to be reasonable by the Commission; and in most instances the burden of the unreasonable rate is borne by a prior producer or is shifted to the ultimate consumer, for whom no redress whatever is available as against the carrier." Id., at 51.

See H. R. Rep. No. 923, 61st Cong., 2d Sess., 4 (1910), quoting President Taft's special message to Congress on the Interstate Commerce Act;*fn18 S. Rep. No. 355, 61st Cong., 2d Sess., 8 (1910);*fn19 United States v. Chesapeake & Ohio R. Co., 426 U.S. 500, 513, and n. 10 (1976) (Chessie); Dixon, The Mann-Elkins Act, 24 Q. J. Econ. 593, 602-603 (1910)

[ 436 U.S. Page 641]

     (hereinafter Dixon). The Commission's Annual Reports also tell us that, as early as 1907, private litigants were able to convince some federal courts to enjoin rate advances after their effective dates but before the Commission was able to complete an investigation as required by the Hepburn Act. See Arrow Transportation Co. v. Southern R. Co., 372 U.S. 658, 663-664, and n. 6 (1963); Sharfman 50 n. 49. Thus, not only did the Hepburn Act fail to protect the public against unreasonable carrier charges, but the equity litigation spawned by the Act led to discrimination in rates -- much like that prohibited by § 1 of the Act -- in the situation in which shippers successful in court would be paying one charge while those who were unsuccessful, or who did not have the wherewithal to go to court or to post an injunction bond, were paying higher charges. See Arrow, supra, at 663-664; Sharfman 50 n. 49; Dixon 603.

To "[provide] a 'means . . . for checking at the threshold new adjustments that might subsequently prove to be unreasonable or discriminatory, safeguarding the community against irreparable losses and recognizing more fully that the Commission's essential task is to establish and maintain reasonable charges and proper rate relationships,'" Chessie, supra, at 513, quoting Sharfman 59, Congress passed the Mann-Elkins Act of 1910, 36 Stat. 539. Section 12 of that Act, 36 Stat. 552, amended § 15 of the Interstate Commerce Act to allow the Commission to suspend "any schedule stating a new individual or joint rate, fare, or charge" for a period not to exceed 10 months. The suspension power conferred was intended to be a "particularly potent tool," giving the Commission "'tremendous power.'" Chessie, supra, at 513, quoting 45 Cong. Rec. 3471 (1910) (statement of Sen. Elkins speaking on behalf of majority report).

Section 15 of the Act, as augmented by the Hepburn and Mann-Elkins Acts, thus works with §§ 1 and 6 of the Act, 49 U. S. C. §§ 1 and 6 (1970 ed. and Supp. V), to give the Commission

[ 436 U.S. Page 642]

     a complete ratemaking charter. Section 1, as we have indicated above, sets the standard that rates and charges must meet, and § 6 -- which prohibits a carrier covered by Part I from engaging in interstate transportation unless its rates, fares, and charges have been filed and published and which, in addition, allows changes in any rate, fare, or charge to be made only after notice to the Commission and public through advance filing of schedules showing the proposed changes, see 49 U. S. C. §§ 6 (1), 6 (3), and 6 (7) -- insures both that the Commission will have sufficient notice to exercise its suspension power and that no carrier can operate on suspended or disapproved schedules.

III

With this background in mind, we turn to the question whether the Commission is authorized by § 15 (7) to suspend the initial rates of a common carrier subject to Part I of the Interstate Commerce Act.

Section 15 (7) states that "[whenever] there shall be filed . . . any schedule stating a new individual or joint rate, fare, or charge, . . . the Commission . . . may from time to time suspend the operation of such schedule . . . ." (Emphasis added.) It is hard to imagine rates any more "new" than those filed for TAPS, a service which has never before been offered. And, since § 15 (7) applies to any new rate, there is little room to argue that Congress meant the suspension power not to apply to these cases, although we recognize that the Court of Appeals found that § 15 (7) had no plain meaning. See 557 F.2d, at 781.

Nonetheless, petitioners argue that "new" does not really mean "new," but refers only to increased or changed rates, i. e., rates which replace other rates previously in effect. As we understand the argument, it draws on three sources. First, it is said that Congress in 1910 was directing its attention solely to the problem of increased railroad rates and, therefore, that the statute should be limited to this application. Second,

[ 436 U.S. Page 643]

     petitioners argue that the only rate schedules the Interstate Commerce Act requires to be filed prior to their effective date are schedules of changed rates. See 49 U. S. C. § 6 (3). Since in their view § 15 (7) is intended to work in tandem with § 6 (3), petitioners conclude that new schedules include only changed schedules. Finally, petitioners point to language added to § 15 (7) by § 418 of the Transportation Act of 1920, 41 Stat. 484-487, which they say authoritatively glosses the word "new," limiting it to the increased rate situation. We find these arguments unpersuasive.

A

This Court, in interpreting the words of a statute, has "some 'scope for adopting a restricted rather than a literal or usual meaning of its words where acceptance of that meaning would lead to absurd results . . . or would thwart the obvious purpose of the statute' . . . [but] it is otherwise 'where no such consequences would follow and where . . . it appears to be consonant with the purposes of the Act . . . .'" Commissioner v. Brown, 380 U.S. 563, 571 (1965) (citations omitted). Under this test, a restriction on the "literal or usual meaning" of the word "new" is not warranted by the legislative history of the Mann-Elkins Act.

First, petitioners' claim that the Commission is without authority to suspend initial rates is not limited to situations in which proposed initial rates are in some sense reasonable; it is a claim that a carrier can impose any rate it chooses.*fn20 Nor have petitioners pointed to any mechanism which would tend to make initial rates reasonable, and Congress in 1910 concluded that the reparations provisions of the Commerce

[ 436 U.S. Page 644]

     Act are an insufficient check. Moreover, in these cases, the reparations remedy is particularly ineffective since those who will ship oil over TAPS are almost exclusively parents or cosubsidiaries of TAPS owners.*fn21 Thus, to an indeterminate, but possibly large extent, excess transportation charges to shippers will be offset by excess profits to TAPS owners, creating a wash transaction from the standpoint of parent oil companies. Indeed, it is telling that no shipper of oil protested the TAPS rates. Instead, as one might predict from experience under the Hepburn Act, see supra, at 640-641, only the public perceives that it will be injured by the proposed TAPS rates and has objected to them. See nn. 6-8, supra. Therefore, in the absence of suspension authority, unreasonable initial rates -- both generally and in these cases -- like unreasonable increases in existing rates, will almost certainly be passed along to "a prior producer or . . . to the ultimate consumer." Sharfman 51.

Second, if the Commission has no authority to suspend initial rates, it follows that Congress cannot have meant to foreclose whatever equity power there is in the courts to enjoin

[ 436 U.S. Page 645]

     carrier rates. Thus, with respect to initial rates, courts might again reach "diverse conclusions," jeopardizing "the regulatory goal of uniformity," and "causing in turn 'discrimination and hardship to the general public.'" Arrow, 372 U.S., at 664, quoting ICC Annual Report 10 (1907).*fn22

Accordingly, far from reaching an "'absurd [result]'" which would "'thwart the obvious purpose of the statute,'" Brown, supra, at 571, a literal reading of the word "new" in § 15 (7) is necessary to curb mischief flowing from unchecked initial rates, which is in every way identical to that flowing from unchecked changes in rates to which the Mann-Elkins Act is concededly addressed. Given the equivalence of the harms resulting from unchecked initial and changed rates, only unequivocal statements in the legislative history of the Act would support any limitation on the scope of the suspension power. Petitioners, however, have been able to offer only isolated remarks made in floor debates in favor of their position.*fn23 These show at most that the primary area

[ 436 U.S. Page 646]

     of congressional concern was the situation in which railroads increased their pre-existing rates. There is nothing to show that Congress intended to limit the suspension power to this situation, however, and, indeed, other isolated remarks show quite clearly that Representative Mann, at least, thought both initial and changed rates could be suspended.*fn24 Therefore, we conclude that the word "new" must be given its literal interpretation, which embraces the rates that are the subject of this litigation.*fn25

[ 436 U.S. Page 647]

     B

Nor do we think much can be made of the fact that Congress, in Part I of the Interstate Commerce Act, sometimes refers to "new" rates and sometimes to "changed" rates.

While it is true that § 6 (3) of the Act provides that "[no] change shall be made in . . . rates . . . which have been filed and published by any common carrier . . . except after thirty days' notice to the Commission and to the public" (emphasis added), we do not not read this section to restrict § 15 (7), as petitioners do. Central to petitioners' argument is the premise that § 6 (3) provides the exclusive procedure through which tariffs can be filed with the Commission. But this is not so.

We can agree that § 6 (3) simply cannot describe the procedure to be followed for filing initial rates since that section, by its terms, applies only to changes in tariffs which have previously been filed with the Commission and initial tariffs by definition have not been so filed. However, the conclusion that § 6 (3) cannot govern the filing of initial tariffs only begins the analysis, for § 6 (1) of the Act -- which states that "[every] common carrier . . . shall file with the Commission . . . schedules showing all the rates, fares, and charges for transportation [over its routes,]" 49 U. S. C. § 6 (1) (emphasis added) -- plainly requires initial rates as well as rates resulting from tariff changes to be filed with the Commission. Since initial tariffs cannot be filed under § 6 (3), the question therefore arises how initial tariffs are to be filed.

[ 436 U.S. Page 648]

     The Interstate Commerce Act gives no answer to this question; § 6 is silent on the issue. However, the Commission provided an answer by regulation in 1906 in order to clarify carrier obligations under the then recently enacted Hepburn Act.*fn26 In that year, the Commission issued Tariff Circular No. 2-A, which provided:

"NEW ROADS. -- On new lines of road, including branches and extensions of existing roads, individual rates may be established in the first instance, and also joint rates to and from points on such new line, without notice, on posting a tariff of such rates and filing the same with the Commission."

The immediately preceding paragraph of the same Circular provided that "Changes in Rates" had to be filed on 30 days' notice, which suggests that the Commission was aware that the 30-day requirement of § 6 (3), and indeed that § 6 (3) itself, was inapplicable to initial rates for "new roads." The rule announced in Circular 2-A became Rule 44 of Tariff Circular 14-A in 1907 and Rule 57 of Tariff Circular 15-A in 1908, a numerical designation which has been retained to this day. See 49 CFR § 1300.57 (1977).*fn27

[ 436 U.S. Page 649]

     Thus, in 1910 when the Mann-Elkins Act was passed, Commission practice was quite clear. Initial tariffs were filed under Rule 57 on 1 day's notice (later changed to 10 days' notice) and tariff changes were filed under the provisions of § 6 (3). Since both the Rule and the Act provided that tariffs should be filed with delayed effective dates, it was clearly possible for the Commission to suspend either initial or changed rates. Consequently, we find no basis for concluding either that § 6 (3) in fact provides the exclusive procedural avenue for filing tariffs or that Congress in 1910 would have thought that it did.

Similarly, although § 418 of the Transportation Act of 1920, 41 Stat. 484-487, added a sentence to § 15 (7) -- "if the proceeding has not been concluded [within the suspension period], the proposed change . . . shall go into effect at the end of such period" -- nothing in the legislative history of that Act suggests that "change" is to be read to restrict the scope of the suspension power. Moreover, the amending language of § 418 itself refers to both changed rates and rate increases, which would suggest that changed rates include more than rate increases.*fn28

Finally, as we have indicated, the tariff provisions in Part I of the Act did not spring full grown into the statute books. Section 6 (3), part of the 1887 Act, was drafted at a time when the Commission had no ratemaking authority. Section 15 (7) traces to three Acts -- the 1887 Act, the Hepburn Act, and the Mann-Elkins Act -- and was then further amended by the Transportation Act of 1920. Since, therefore, the tariff provisions grew more like Topsy than Athena, it is inappropriate to insist that each phrase in those provisions fit meticulously

[ 436 U.S. Page 650]

     with every other. Instead, the Act must be construed not only by its language but by its purposes if sense is to be made of the verbal accretions of many years. Under this proper standard of construction, there is little to commend the argument that the word "change" was meant to narrow "new." To the contrary, the opposite construction -- that "new" was intended to clarify the meaning of "change" -- is more justified given the purposes of the Hepburn and Mann-Elkins Acts. Indeed, when Congress did enact comprehensive tariff schemes in Parts II,*fn29 III,*fn30 and IV*fn31 of the Interstate Commerce Act, which cover (respectively) motor carriers, common carriers by water, and freight forwarders, it indicated unequivocally in the language of the suspension provisions that initial rates were "new" rates capable of being suspended and yet references to "changed" rates appear in those Parts in each place they appear in Part I.*fn32

[ 436 U.S. Page 651]

     C

For the reasons stated above, we conclude that the Commission is authorized by § 15 (7) to suspend rates which are "new" in the sense that they apply to services which have never before been offered to the public.

IV

Our conclusion that the Commission can suspend TAPS's initial rates does not end our inquiry, for petitioners also argue that the Commission has here exceeded whatever power

[ 436 U.S. Page 652]

     it has to suspend tariffs. Pointing to the Commission's calculation of rates which it would allow to go into effect during the suspension period, they state that the Commission has set rates without the hearing required by 49 U. S. C. § 15 (1).*fn33 We disagree.

The reason the Commission has been given power to suspend is to prevent irreparable harm to the public during the

[ 436 U.S. Page 653]

     time when it has under consideration the lawfulness of a proposed rate. See Part II, supra. The foundation for a suspension is the Commission's conclusion that a proposed rate is probably unreasonable or unjust. See, e. g., TAPS, 355 I. C. C., at 81-82. To make such a determination, the Commission is obviously required to form a tentative opinion about the location of the line between the just and the unjust, the reasonable and the unreasonable. Moreover, the Commission is required by § 15 (7) to set out its reasons in writing for suspending a tariff. The usual and sufficient reason will be that the Commission has found a proposed tariff to fall on the unjust or unreasonable side of the line it has drawn, and it is a reason of precisely this sort that the Commission has given here. See 355 I. C. C., at 81-83.

Petitioners do not apparently disagree that the Commission can suspend a tariff because it falls on the wrong side of the line of reasonableness, but they would prevent the Commission in suspending a tariff from stating, as it did here, where the tentative dividing line lies. Such a statement, they say, is ratemaking. But this is untenable: No principle of law requires the Commission to engage in a pointless charade in which carriers desiring to exercise their § 6 (3) rights are required to submit and resubmit tariffs until one finally goes below an undisclosed maximum point of reasonableness and is allowed to take effect. The administrative process, after all, is not modeled on "The Price is Right." What the Commission did here, therefore, far from being condemnable, is an intelligent and practical exercise of its suspension power which is thoroughly in accord with Congress' goal, recognized in Arrow, 372 U.S., at 664-666; see United States v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669, 697 (1973), to strike a fair balance between the needs of the public and the needs of regulated carriers. Indeed, the Commission might well have been derelict in its duty had it insisted on charade once it had determined that there was a way TAPS could operate without harm to the

[ 436 U.S. Page 654]

     public. Cf. Arrow, supra; SCRAP, supra ; 43 U. S. C. § 1651 (a) (1970 ed., Supp. V) (congressional policy favors "[the] early development and delivery of oil . . . from Alaska's North Slope to domestic markets").

V

Finally, petitioners contend that the Commission has no power to subject them to an obligation to account for and refund amounts collected under the interim rates in effect during the suspension period and the initial rates which would become effective at the end of such period. They point to the absence of any express authority for such refund provisions and also to the fact that § 15 (7) does provide expressly for refunds in a limited category of circumstances, namely, where there is an "increased rate or charge for or in respect to the transportation of property," which has become effective at the end of a suspension period. This statutory pattern, they suggest, indicates that Congress considered and rejected any broader refund scheme, thereby curtailing any ancillary power to order refund provisions that the Commission might otherwise have.

In response, we note first that we have already recognized in Chessie that the Commission does have powers "ancillary" to its suspension power which do not depend on an express statutory grant of authority. We had no occasion in Chessie to consider what the full range of such powers might be, but we did indicate that the touchstone of ancillary power was a "[direct] [relationship]" between the power asserted and the Commission's "mandate to assess the reasonableness of . . . rates and to suspend them pending investigation if there is a question as to their legality." 426 U.S., at 514. Applying this test, we found in Chessie a direct relationship which justified the Commission in insisting that the proceeds of proposed general railroad rate increases be used to pay for deferred maintenance. If such a use was made of the proceeds,

[ 436 U.S. Page 655]

     the rates were reasonable; but they might not be reasonable if put to other purposes. Ibid. We also noted that "[delay] through suspension would only have aggravated the already poor condition of some of the railroads." Ibid. Thus, we approved the deferred maintenance condition essentially because it was necessary to strike a proper balance between the interests of the carriers and the interests of the public.

The situation here is very similar. Even a cursory glance at the pleadings before the Commission shows that extended adjudicatory proceedings will be required to resolve the question of precisely what are fair rates. Accordingly, it is not apparent how the Commission could discharge its mandate under § 15 (7) summarily "to assess the reasonableness of [TAPS] rates," 426 U.S., at 514, while considering the interest of the TAPS carriers in beginning operations, unless it could make gross approximations of the sort it made in this proceeding, in which it essentially accepted carrier-supplied data as true and properly included in the TAPS rate base notwithstanding protests to the contrary. See TAPS, supra, at 83; supra, at 636, and n. 12. But if such approximations are to be used to meet the needs of carriers, it is plain that refund provisions are a necessary and "directly related," Chessie, 426 U.S., at 514, means of discharging the Commission's other mandate to protect the public pending a more complete determination of the reasonableness of the TAPS rates.

Thus, here as in Chessie, the Commission's refund conditions are a "legitimate, reasonable, and direct adjunct to the Commission's explicit statutory power to suspend rates pending investigation," in that they allow the Commission, in exercising its suspension power, to pursue "a more measured course" and to "[offer] an alternative tailored far more precisely to the particular circumstances" of these cases. Ibid. Since, again as in Chessie, the measured course adopted here is necessary to strike a proper balance between the interests of carriers and the public, we think the Interstate Commerce Act should

[ 436 U.S. Page 656]

     be construed to confer on the Commission the authority to enter on this course unless language in the Act plainly requires a contrary result.

We turn, therefore, to the language in § 15 (7) on which petitioners rely. This language was not part of the Mann-Elkins Act, but was added by the Transportation Act of 1920. See § 418 of the latter Act, 41 Stat. 484, 487. Section 418 rearranged the paragraphs of § 15 of the Interstate Commerce Act and made numerous modifications to the text of that section. Among other things, § 418 reduced the suspension period created by the Mann-Elkins Act from 10 months to 120 days. According to Commissioner Clark, this change was intended to alleviate complaints by the railroads that the 10-month period too long deprived them of needed revenue in the situation in which proposed rates were ultimately determined to be reasonable. See 1 Hearings on H. R. 4378 before the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 66th Cong., 1st Sess., 30-31 (1919). To protect shippers, the reduction in the suspension period was counterbalanced with a provision authorizing the Commission to require carriers to keep account of and refund amounts collected under tariffs which became effective after a 120-day suspension. See ibid. The provisions were summarized in the Report of the Conference Committee which described the provisions of the House bill which provided the text of § 418:

"[The House bill provided that] as to freight rates the carrier should keep a record in all cases where the commission had not concluded such hearing, and, if the commission finally found the rates too high, the carrier was required to make refunds to the shippers affected." H. R. Conf. Rep. No. 650, 66th Cong., 2d Sess., 66 (1920).

This passage, which declares that Congress sought to protect the public in "all cases" in which a hearing had not been concluded by the termination of the suspension period, certainly cannot be read to indicate that Congress placed any

[ 436 U.S. Page 657]

     emphasis on the word "increased" or intended to limit the Commission's ancillary powers. Indeed, the House Report on the same bill, H. R. Rep. No. 456, 66th Cong., 1st Sess., 20-21 (1919), appears to refer to "increased" rates only to distinguish them from "decreased" rates, over which the 1920 Act for the first time gave the Commission some authority by conferring power to set minimum rates, see id., at 19, and as to which there is no need to create a refund procedure to protect shippers. From this very sketchy history, therefore, it seems that Congress' purpose was to create a remedy less cumbersome than the reparations procedure to protect shippers whenever they could be harmed due to the shortened suspension period created by the 1920 Act. See Arrow, 372 U.S., at 665-666. Accordingly, we conclude that nothing in the Transportation Act precludes what the Commission has done here and, moreover, that the Commission's actions are completely consistent with what Congress intended when it drafted the 1920 Act.

VI

For the reasons stated above, the judgment below is in all respects

Affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE POWELL took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.

Disposition

557 F.2d 775, affirmed.


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