An American Trucking Associations representative recently testified before Congress that releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves would help stabilize petroleum markets, reduce global demand for crude oil and ultimately lower fuel prices.

"We know that the SPR does not contain enough oil to permanently alter the supply of crude oil in the marketplace," said Swift Transportation Vice President Dave Berry. "But we believe strategic releases from the SPR could temporarily increase the supply of crude oil and hopefully help restore rational behavior to the petroleum markets. This type of government intervention could drive speculators out of the market and help ensure that petroleum prices are once again driven by supply and demand."

Berry, whose Phoenix, Ariz.-based truckload company operates more than 18,000 trucks, also asked the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to review the rules governing management of the SPR. Berry said because the current rules are subject to an international agreement, they limit the ability of the United States to address market irregularities with the reserves.

The dramatic increase in the price of diesel, which has coincided with a downturn in the economy and a softening demand for freight transportation, is hurting trucking companies nationwide.

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:
• 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.