U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced legislation yesterday, the 'Diesel Tax Parity Act,' which would lower the federal diesel tax
from 24.3 cents a gallon to the same price as gasoline, 18.3 cents a gallon. Diesel prices have reached continued to break record after record and are now approximately 70 percent higher than this time last year, and as high as $4.56 in Maine. Energy inflation has had a devastating effect on all products nationwide. Producer-price data showed energy prices in the wholesale sector increased 2.9 percent last month, after rising 0.8 percent in February. While gasoline rose 1.3 percent, diesel fuel jumped 15.3 percent.

"The dramatic rise in fuel costs has resulted in lobstermen and truckers to go out of business - thereby endangering Maine's most prosperous industries," said Senator Snowe, who is also a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. "One way to immediately alleviate this burden is to lower the diesel tax to make it proportional and equal to the gas tax."

Senator Snowe added, "Our trucking industry and small businesses are in a crisis and drastic steps need to be undertaken by Congress. The situation for Maine's trucking industry is simply untenable and we need immediate action to lower the price of fuel for small businesses that are impacted by these historic costs."