ATA wants Congress to address fuel problems
May 13, 2008 9:44 AM
A representative of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has called on Congress to support the trucking industry's efforts to reduce fuel consumption and address the escalating cost of fuel to ease the financial hardships of the nations motor carriers.
Mike Card, Combined Transport president and ATA state vice-president, said the dramatic increase in the price of diesel combined with a downturn in the economy and softening demand for freight transportation has many trucking companies struggling to survive. He testified recently before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Card asked Congress to create incentives to speed the introduction of auxiliary power units to reduce main engine idling, establish a 65 mile per hour national speed limit, and support the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay program.
"Our industry can't simply absorb this rapid increase in fuel costs" Card said. "We must pass some of these costs through to our customers, which ultimately translate into higher prices on the store shelves." Card, whose Oregon-based family-owned trucking company operates more than 400 trucks, expects to spend more than $21.7 million on diesel fuel this year, a 26 percent increase from 2007. The trucking industry overall is on pace to spend $141.5 billion on fuel in 2008, $29 billion more than a year earlier, according to the ATA information.
Because trucking is a highly competitive industry with very low profit margins, many trucking companies are reporting that higher fuel prices are greatly suppressing profits. In the 2008 first quarter, 935 trucking companies with at least five trucks failed. This represents the largest number of trucking-related failures since the 2001 third quarter.
ATA believes that balancing the need for an efficient petroleum market with the desire to limit petroleum speculation could help burst the bubble that has formed in the petroleum markets.
ATA also is urging the federal government to help bring down the price of diesel fuel and to alleviate trucking companies’ hardships by doing the following:
•Allow environmentally responsible exploration of oil-rich areas in the United States that are now off-limits;
•Allow environmentally responsible development of crude resources in oil shale and tar sands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming;
•Set a national maximum speed limit of 65 mph;
•Require speed limiters set for 68 mph or lower on all new trucks;
•Work with the 50 state Attorneys General to combat any fuel price gouging that might occur;
•Continue to fund EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership Program, which encourages fuel-saving strategies;
•Require states to grant a weight exemption for APUs;
•Streamline EPA’s regulatory framework for reviewing and processing applications for additional refinery operations;
•Suspend the collection of the 12 percent federal excise tax on motor carriers’ purchase of auxiliary power units (APUs), which cut the consumption of fuels in idling truck engines;
•Establish a national diesel fuel standard;
•Eliminate "splash and dash" - a tax benefit for imported biodiesel that is subsequently exported; and
•Stop filling and instead release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
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