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),
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,
Acting pursuant to § 15 (7) of the Interstate Commerce Act, the Commission
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, "accept[ing] the basic data supplied by the carriers" as true, ibid., the Commission
Four pipeline owners, petitioners here,
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.
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 "[a]ll 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).
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;
To "provid[e] 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
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 "[w]henever 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,
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' . . . [b]ut 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.
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
Accordingly, far from reaching an "`absurd resul[t]'" 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.
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 "[n]o 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 "[e]very 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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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
The reason the Commission has been given power to suspend is to prevent irreparable harm to the public during the
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
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 "direc[t] relat[ionship]" 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,
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 "offe[r] 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
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:
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
For the reasons stated above, the judgment below is in all respects
MR. JUSTICE POWELL took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.
Sohio Pipe Line Co. 33.34% ARCO Pipe Line Co. 21.00 Exxon Pipeline Co. 20.00 BP Pipelines, Inc. 15.84 Mobil Alaska Pipeline Co. 5.00 Phillips Alaska Pipeline Corp. 1.66 Union Alaska Pipeline Co. 1.66 Amerada Hess Pipeline Corp. 1.50
Trans Alaska Pipeline System, 355 I. C. C. 80, 91-93 (1977) (TAPS). Phillips Alaska Pipeline Corp. filed its tariffs later than the other seven carriers and has filed a petition for review of the suspension of its tariffs in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where decision has been deferred pending decision by this Court in these cases. See Joint Brief for Petitioners 4 n. 2.
Proposed Interim Carrier Rate Rate ReductionAmerada Hess $6.44 $4.85 $1.59 BP 6.35 4.68 1.67 Mobil Alaska 6.31 4.84 1.47 Exxon 6.27 5.10 1.17 Phillips Alaska 6.22 4.83 1.39 Sohio 6.16 4.70 1.46 Union Alaska 6.09 4.89 1.20 ARCO 6.04 4.91 1.13
See id., at 80, 87, 94.
Arrow and SCRAP stand for two propositions: first, that federal courts have no power to enjoin rate changes before the Commission has finally determined the lawfulness of rates, see Arrow, supra, at 669; SCRAP, supra, at 691; and, second, that federal courts have no power to make "an independent appraisal of the reasonableness of rates," Arrow, supra, at 670-671; see SCRAP, supra, at 692. Although reversal of a suspension order on judicial review might have the effect of allowing a rate to go into effect, such a reversal would not have the effect of an injunction, which jeopardizes "the regulatory goal of uniformity" of rates, Arrow, supra, at 664; see infra, at 641, since the effect of the reviewing court's judgment would be to void the suspension order as to all affected carriers in all regions of the country. Moreover, under the recently modified provisions for judicial review of ICC orders, only one reviewing court could have jurisdiction over a suspension order. See 28 U. S. C. §§ 2341 (3) (A), 2342 (5) (1970 ed., Supp. V), added by Pub. L. No. 93-584, §§ 3-4, 88 Stat. 1917; 28 U. S. C. § 2349 (a). And, although we reaffirm our previous holding that courts may not independently appraise the reasonableness of rates, no such appraisal is involved in inquiring whether the Commission has overstepped the bounds of its authority. Therefore, we conclude that Congress did not mean to cut off judicial review for such limited purposes. Cf. Dunlop v. Bachowski, 421 U.S. 560, 567 (1975); Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 140-141 (1967); Leedom v. Kyne, 358 U.S. 184, 190 (1958).
"[ICC] Commissioner Hardin: If we do not have the power to suspend then would the carriers be in a position to file a rate, say, at $35 a barrel, and the Commission still could not suspend that?
"[Exxon counsel]: If you do not have that power, that would be right."
Carrier Interest InterestSohio/BP 49.18% 53.155% ARCO 21.00 20.274 Exxon 20.00 20.274 Mobil 5.00 2.094 Phillips 1.66 2.044 Amerada Hess 1.50 .538 Union Oil 1.66 0.000 Ten Others 0.00 1.619
Brief for Federal Respondents 7-8, n. 4. The oil equity interests computed by petitioners are different, but not substantially so. See Joint Brief for Petitioners 6 n. 6.
"[W]hen the railroad company then files this schedule of rates proposing to increase the rates, we say it is a reasonable presumption that the rate which has existed, possibly for a long time—but whether for long or short, the one in existence—is a fair rate, and should remain in force until the commission has had an opportunity to give some investigation to the subject. That seems to be fair to the railroad company and fair to the shipper." 45 Cong. Rec. 4713 (1910).
Just before this, however, Mann stated:
"We have therefore provided in the bill that where the schedule of rates is filed with the commission proposing to change an existing rate, the commission shall have authority to suspend the taking effect of that rate; and we provide that when there shall be filed with the commission a schedule stating a new rate or classification or regulation or practice, the commission... may suspend the operation of the proposed rate, classification, regulation, or practice . . . ." Id., at 4711 (emphasis added).
Thus, Mann quite clearly recognized that the suspension power extended to both changes in rates and schedules stating initial rates. Moreover, Mann, in defending the suspension power, felt the need to discuss the situation in which a carrier puts in a rate "upon a new article." Id., at 4711-4712. If the suspension power was meant to apply only where there was an old rate in effect, this element of Mann's defense would have been superfluous.
Petitioners also rely on statements made in the Senate which appear to refer solely to the rate increase situation. See Joint Brief for Petitioners 22 n. 29. These remarks, however, refer to an amendment to the Mann-Elkins Act, ultimately defeated, 45 Cong. Rec. 6915 (1910), introduced by Senator Cummins which prevented any change in rate "which is an increase over the then existing rate," id., at 6409, from becoming effective until the Commission approved it. Therefore, the remarks are not relevant to an interpretation of the Act as passed.
First, they demonstrate that Congress understood the words "any schedule stating a new rate" to include initial rates, that is, rates filed with the Commission for a service not previously under tariff. If this were not so, a grandfather proviso would have been entirely unnecessary. Second, because Congress grandfathered only rates filed within a specified time period, the inference is strong that initial rates filed subsequent to that period were (and are) subject to suspension. This inference is confirmed by the legislative history of § 316 (g).
As indicated, § 316 (g) as enacted did not contain a cutoff date in the grandfather proviso. In 1938, a cutoff date was provided by amendment. This change was explained by the House Committee Report as follows:
"Sectio[n 16] . . . propose[s] to amend sectio[n] [316 (g)] . . . to permit the Commission to suspend any initial schedule of a common carrier . . . filed after the date that the provisions of the bill shall have become effective. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to prevent future filings of initial tariffs and schedules by motor carriers who were in bona fide operation on June 1, or July 1, 1935, without the exercise by the Commission of its suspension power." H. R. Rep. No. 2714, 75th Cong., 3d Sess., 4 (1938).
While there is no grandfather clause in § 15 (7) itself which would confirm its application to initial rates, Congress was doubtless attempting to recreate the scheme of § 15 (7) in Parts II-IV of the Act and expressly stated this on two occasions. See H. R. Rep. No. 1217, 76th Cong., 1st Sess., 23-24 (1939); H. R. Rep. No. 2066, 77th Cong., 2d Sess., 22 (1942). Moreover, since § 15 (7) is in all respects in pari materia with §§ 316 (g), 907 (g), and 1006 (e), the plain meaning of the latter sections should be given significant weight in construing the former. See United States v. Freeman, 3 How. 556, 564-565 (1845); United States v. Stewart, 311 U.S. 60, 64-65 (1940); Erlenbaugh v. United States, 409 U.S. 239, 243-244 (1972).
In addition, the fact that §§ 316 (g) and 1006 (e) plainly apply to initial rates defeats petitioners' argument that the word "change" in either § 6 (3) or § 15 (7) of the Act narrows the word "new." Counterparts to § 6 (3) are found in §§ 317 (c) and 1005 (d), each of which, like § 6 (3), states: "No change shall be made in any rate . . . except after thirty days' notice . . . ." (Emphasis added.) Since §§ 317 (c) and 1005 (d) are intended to work with §§ 316 (g) and 1006 (e), respectively, in the same way § 6 (3) works with § 15 (7), it is clear that the word "change" does not limit the scope of the suspension power. Similarly, each of §§ 316 (g), 907 (g), and 1006 (e) contains language identical to that added to § 15 (7) by the Transportation Act of 1920, see supra, at 649, which again shows that the word "change" cannot be given any restrictive meaning.