The trucking industry is experiencing the highest prolonged fuel prices in history. Historically, fuel represented the second-highest operating expense for motor carriers. For some motor carriers, however, fuel is beginning to surpass labor as their largest expense. This ultimately will increase the cost of everything delivered by truck.
ATA is urging the federal government to help bring down the price of diesel fuel and to alleviate trucking companies' hardships by doing the following:
• Stop filling and instead release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve;
• Establish a national diesel fuel standard;
• 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;
• 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;
• Streamline EPA's regulatory framework for reviewing and processing applications for additional refinery operations;
• Require speed limiters set for 68 mph or lower on all new trucks;
• Set a national maximum speed limit of 65 mph;
• 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;
• Require states to grant a weight exemption for APUs; and
• Eliminate "splash and dash" - a tax benefit for imported biodiesel that is subsequently exported.
"The signs are troubling. We are concerned about fuel's direct impact on our industry and also its effects on the nation's economy," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. "The industry is doing its part to conserve fuel, but we need help."
ATA recently issued letters to President Bush, the Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Treasury requesting that immediate steps be taken to address this crisis situation.
The trucking industry is making every effort to limit fuel consumption, including lowering speed limits and utilizing equipment to reduce idling. But rising fuel prices have been a significant burden on the trucking industry. The industry is on pace to spend an unprecedented $135 billion on diesel fuel this year, $22 billion more than a year earlier.