Charles "Shorty" Whittington, president of Grammer Industries Inc, Grammer, Indiana, and American Trucking Associations (ATA) first vice-chairman, discussed ATA's support for a federal comprehensive energy bill August 21 at the ATA National Truck Driving Championships held in Houston, Texas.
ATA is calling for a bipartisan bill that would allow domestic oil drilling, tax incentives, and alternative energy research in an effort to lower the price of fuel.
Joining Whittington in the discussion were Tony Sifford, an owner-operator and ATA America's Road Team member, and Congressman Nick Lampson (D-Texas).
“Trucking delivers America," said Whittington. "Trucks transport virtually 100 percent of groceries, medicine, clothing, appliances, and even the fuel that’s pumped at the local gas station. Diesel fuel prices are hurting us and driving up the costs of all of these consumer goods. We need a comprehensive energy plan. The National Conservation, Environment, and Energy Independence Act is part of this comprehensive solution.”
He added that as a tank truck carrier his company is spending $5,000 more per day as a result of the rising cost of diesel. "That gets into the pockets of consumers--and in the wrong way," Whittington said.
Sifford earlier this summer presented ATA support for the legislation when he and Barbara Windsor, president of Hahn Transportation Inc, New Market MD, and ATA vice-chairman, spoke at a news conference in Washington, urging the Bush Administration and Congress to implement an energy plan.
At the Houston news conference, Sifford said that to fill his tank today the cost is about $2,800 compared to $1,600 in 2007, prompting him to step up attention to details such as properly maintaining truck equipment, watching tire pressure, slowing speed, and avoiding idling.
"It's a big problem and it needs a good solution," Sifford said. “I’m trying to do my part, but we can’t continue to run our business at these high prices. The high cost of diesel is cutting into our already tight margins. I’ve had a number of friends go out of business this year. We can’t continue to run our business with these high prices.”
If enacted, the legislation would increase domestic production of energy by allowing exploration of the US Outer Continental Shelf and Oil Shale Reserves; promote the use of alternative energy sources, such as biodiesel, by extending the biodiesel tax credit designed to encourage consumers to use the renewable resource; and target revenues produced from domestic oil leases to the development of energy conservation technologies.
"This plan is a comprehensive energy solution that includes domestic drilling and alternative energy research," the congressman said. "It will resolve the crisis American families are facing."
ATA noted that the trucking industry is experiencing the highest prolonged fuel prices in history. For most motor carriers, fuel has surpassed labor as their largest expense. It currently costs $1,400 to fill a typical tractor trailer’s fuel tanks. Fuel cost increases ultimately increase the cost of everything delivered by truck.