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That the transportation of oil is commerce among the States the United States Supreme Court thinks clear. That conception cannot be made wholly dependent upon technical questions of title, and the fact that the oils transported belongs to the owner of the pipe line is not conclusive against the transportation being such commerce.
Availing itself of its transportation monopoly, an oil company refused through its subordinates, the pipeline companies, to carry any oil unless the same was sold to it or to them on terms more or less dictated by the oil company. Under the authority of the Hepburn Act, the Commission issued an order requiring the pipeline companies to file schedules of their rates and charges for the transportation of oil. The pipeline companies brought suit to set aside and annul the order. A preliminary injunction was issued upon the finding that the Act was unconstitutional. Appellants, the United States, the Interstate Commerce Commission, and others, challenged the order.
Was the provision in the Hepburn Act requiring persons or corporations engaged in interstate transportation of oil by pipe lines to become common carriers unconstitutional?
On appeal, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The transportation through the pipelines was clearly commerce among the States. So far as the statute contemplated future pipelines the statute was valid. The pipeline companies were common carriers. The act did not require them to give up business, but merely required them to give up requiring a sale to themselves before carrying the oil. There was no taking. The court affirmed the injunction as to a pipeline company that was simply drawing oil from its own wells across a state line to its own refinery for its own use. It did not fall within the description of the Act.