Items of Interest

The interstate commerce commission, acting under the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court, has issued a notice to pipeline companies to file with it tariffs fixing rates and charges for carrying oil. The decision sustained the legislation making oil pipe-lines common carriers. The belief has been expressed that the commission, in regulating the pipe-line rates, will to a considerable extent exercise a voice in fixing the actual price of petroleum in the United States, if not in the world. The commission itself regards the problem now before it as one of the most important it has ever been called upon to solve. At present the pipelines buy the oil to be transported at prices fixed by themselves. The Standard Oil Company in the past, and its successors under the dissolution decree of the Supreme Court, have controlled exports and, it has been charged, prevented foreign interest from buying oil in this country and refining it. This has been accomplished, it is alleged, through the ownership and control of the pipe-lines. Just as soon as the commission fixes rates, rules, and regulations, every one will be accorded equal treatment.

An injunction restraining the Chicago Butter and Egg Board from publishing prices on butter, eggs, and other products, has been issued by Federal Judge Landis in Chicago. In a suit filed some months ago, the government charged that by publishing prices on the commodities in which it dealt, the Butter and Egg Board artificially created prices higher than the market warranted, and violated the federal law prohibiting all acts in restraint of trade. The suit is similar to the recent action against the Elgin Board of Trade, which resulted in the entering of a decree directing that the actual sales should alone be quoted, and no attempt to fix prices should be made by what was known as the price committee. It is the intention of the district attorney to draft a similar decree in the case of the Chicago Butter and Egg Board, making actual sales the basis of butter and egg quotations. The decree in the case will be submitted to the attorney-general for approval before it is entered in court.

The plans now being perfected for the forest service part of the inquiry to the made jointly by the departments of commerce and agriculture into timber and lumber-trade conditions in the United States, provide for covering entirely new ground. Lumbermen are now admittedly conducting their operations with a high percentage of waste, said to be largely due to market conditions, which make close utilization unprofitable. There is no general agreement as to the actual causes of existing conditions and the responsibility for present undoubted evils. With rapidly diminishing supplies of timber to draw upon, wasteful lumbering has come to be recognized as a matter of serious public concern, and an inquiry to discover the causes and seek for possible remedies is regarded by forest service officials as an urgent need. It is believed that the lumber industry itself recognizes the need and will welcome an inquiry conducted along constructive lines.

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Defending Our Heritage
August 8, 1914

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