Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC)
The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) is an independent regulatory agency that implements federal economic regulations controlling railroads, motor carriers, pipelines, domestic water carriers, domestic surface freight forwarders, and brokers. The ICC was established in 1887 by the Interstate Commerce Act. It was originally tasked with regulating the railroad industry but was later given authority over other modes of transportation. The ICC was abolished in 1995 and its functions were transferred to the Surface Transportation Board.
The ICC regulated interstate commerce through a variety of means, including:
- rate setting.
- investigating and prosecuting violations of the law.
- issuing orders and decisions.
- the ICC also had the power to issue cease and desist orders to stop illegal practices.
- in addition, the ICC could order companies to discontinue certain practices and make changes to their operations.
The ICC’s authority was not unlimited, however. The agency could only regulate interstate commerce, meaning that it could not take action against companies engaged in purely local operations. In addition, the ICC could only take action against companies that were engaged in interstate commerce at the time of the violation. This meant that the ICC could not prosecution companies for past violations or order them to make changes to their operations if they were no longer engaged in interstate commerce.
The ICC was often criticized for being slow and inefficient. Its decisions could be appealed to the federal courts, which are often overturned or modified. The ICC was also accused of being too favorable to the industries it regulated. Nonetheless, the agency played an important role in the development of the American transportation system.