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Fuel shortage update: Feds asked to help end shortage

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The province of Ontario has appealed to the federal government to pave the way for truckers to use ...

OTTAWA, Ont. — The province of Ontario has appealed to the federal government to pave the way for truckers to use off-road diesel fuel while refineries struggle to catch up with demand for ULSD.

Ontario Minister of Energy, Dwight Duncan, took up the trucking industrys cause and sent an urgent letter to federal Environment Minister John Baird.

Ontarios economy is heavily dependent on trucking, and the trucking industry is solely dependent on diesel fuel, Duncan pointed out in his letter. He went on to say that temporarily allowing the trucking industry to use this fuel would significantly reduce the negative impact on the Ontario economy arising from the current situation.

Liberal MP Dan McTeague of the Pickering-Scarborough East riding, has also stepped in, urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to allow the use of off-road diesel. Millions of litres of off-road diesel fuel are already available and it can be produced quicker and more easily than ULSD, the Ontario Trucking Association has pointed out.

Ontario gets it, members of parliament get it, now we need support from the Government of Canada, OTA president David Bradley said. He added the shortage is worsening for trucking companies that are now facing diesel rations.

There are millions of litres of fuel that is perfectly suitable to use by trucks sitting in reserve, that we need temporary access to, but its not happening, says Bradley. Its frustrating when you consider the risk to the economy.

Bradley accuses the feds of being in a regulatory straight jacket. The government says it does not have the authority to suspend requirements for the use of ULSD even temporarily. In order to provide the industry with a temporary exemption, the federal government would have to introduce new regulations that would take at least 60 days to pass.

The OTA has suggested the federal government simply turn a blind eye to oil companies that sell regular off-road diesel for on-road applications until the fuel shortage stabilizes, however, as it stands now, oil companies can be heavily fined for selling non ULSD to over-the-road truckers.

There must be a way; its an intolerable situation we are facing with trucks roaming around looking to find fuel to put in their tanks, says an exasperated Bradley. It is quite incredible that an industry the size of the oil producers could allow this situation to occur. It is equally bizarre that in post-9/11 world, after the supposed emergency planning of the past six years, that the economy should be exposed to such a risk.

Bradley added: Its amazing how resilient the trucking industry has been under very trying circumstances. We all hope we have hit bottom and that for everyones sake fuel inventories will improve soon. But right now I would have to say that is just wishful thinking because we have seen nothing so far that would suggest next week wont be as bad as this week has been or worse.

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