ATA urges US government to help bring down fuel prices

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations is urging the Bush Administration to act quickly to ensure that strategies are in place to keep an affordable supply of oil available for the nation’s 3.5 million truck drivers and American consumers.

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 labour as their largest expense, the ATA says.

ATA officials are 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 US 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 George W. Bush, the Department of Energy, US 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.

According to the ATA, the US trucking industry is on pace to spend an unprecedented $135 billion on diesel fuel this year, $22 billion more than a year earlier.

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