By Richard Moskowitz
Vice President and Regulatory Affairs Counsel
American Trucking Associations
This Opinion piece appears in the May 16 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
Recent events in the Middle East have refocused the worldâ€™s attention on petroleum markets and the United Statesâ€™ dependence on foreign sources of oil. As the price of a barrel of oil stands in excess of $100, we should remember how dependent the trucking industry is on petroleum-derived diesel fuel.
The trucking industry annually consumes 35 billion gallons of diesel to deliver lifeâ€™s essentials. Food, clothing, medicine, fuel and virtually all consumer goods are delivered to retail stores by trucks. Each penny increase in the price of diesel fuel costs the trucking industry more than $356 million annually.
Against this backdrop, American Trucking Associations has been advocating for a comprehensive domestic energy policy. We recognize that there is no single solution to high oil prices. We are not going to be able to conserve our way to energy independence, substitute renewable fuels or simply drill our way out of this crisis. We must adopt an â€œall-of-the-aboveâ€� approach.
Trucking companies recognize the importance of fuel conservation to their bottom line and have embraced slower speeds, route optimization, driver incentive programs, anti-idling devices, and other technologies to reduce their fuel bills. Earlier this year, the federal government, with ATAâ€™s support, proposed the first-ever fuel efficiency standards for new heavy trucks.
The government also has created a market for renewable fuels. These government mandates to use alternative fuels are expensive and create challenges for consumers; however, alternative fuels represent an important part of the â€œall-of-the-aboveâ€� approach to energy policy, and we should support efforts to overcome these challenges and ensure that renewable fuels are affordable and accessible for consumers.
While conservation and alternative fuels are two legs of a three-legged stool, our government seems to have turned its back on the third leg of the stool and has failed to aggressively develop our domestic petroleum resources. In fact, domestic petroleum production in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska is under siege. Even natural gas production is coming under attack by environmental groups.
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