ATA seeking congressional investigation into fuel price spike

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The American Trucking Associations is calling for a congressional investigation into the recent soar in fuel prices.

The ATA called for the measure as part of its “ongoing efforts to limit the negative effects of fuel prices on the trucking industry, and ultimately, the national economy.”

In a press statement, ATA president and CEO Bill Graves said the rapid rise in diesel prices – throughout 2005 – is damaging the trucking industry and “will result in failures, lower capital investment, and negative employment trends.”

The president of the advocacy group added, “The trucking industry is primarily a small-business industry with relatively slim profit margins yet is the backbone of the U.S. economy.”

ATA submitted testimony to the Senate and House Energy Committees to spur more U.S. investment in refining capacity, adding that the country underinvested in that industry, even as oil refiners operated at 95 percent capacity.

ATA says the lacking investment made the recent price spikes – diesel shot above $3 per gallon in some parts of the country after Katrina – more extreme than necessary. ATA says with Gulf refineries crippled after the storm, other facilities were unable to increase production to make up the difference.

The group also is seeking an amendment to the Clean Air Act that would set a single, national diesel fuel standard. Varying state diesel standards, the ATA says, generate regional price disparities and heighten localized supply shortages and price spikes.

With a single standard, diesel could be transported from one region to another without breaking state requirements and spur competitive pricing.