Fuel Smarts

Diesel Inches Closer to $4 Mark

March 24, 2008

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The national average price of a gallon of diesel continues to hover near the $4 mark, as the American Trucking Associations asks the government to do something about it.

The Energy Information Administration's Monday figures showed the national retail on-highway average at $3.989 per gallon. That's up 1.5 cents from the previous week and $1.31 higher than a year ago.

The average price was over $4 a gallon in some regions of the country, including $4.045 on the East Coast, $4.142 in New England, $4.186 in the Central Atlantic, and $4.056 on the West Coast ($4.119 in California).

However, crude oil prices fell to close at $100.86 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange as the dollar gained strength. (Buying commodities such as oil futures is a common tactic when the dollar's value falls.)

Another reason for the falling oil prices - expected slower economic growth in the U.S. will likely lessen oil demand. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicted Thursday that the U.S. economy would grow 0.1 percent in the first quarter, down from the 0.3 percent estimated in December, and would display zero growth in the second, compared with 0.4 percent given previously.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves Monday urged President Bush to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an attempt to break the current run-up in crude oil prices before they further constrain the U.S. economy.

In a letter to President Bush, Graves cautioned that skyrocketing diesel prices will magnify the current economic slowdown and delay an economic recovery. Graves advocated for the Bush Administration to implement policies that will ensure a steady, affordable supply of oil for the nation's 3.5 million truck drivers and all American consumers.

"If households have to spend their forthcoming tax rebate checks on energy, the stimulus will be significantly limited," Graves wrote. "The more consumers spend on fuel the less they have to spend on other goods or services."

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