ATA disappointed over Senate support of Arctic drilling filibuster

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The American Trucking Associations has expressed disappointment in the U.S. Senate’s 56-44 vote to uphold a filibuster of the defense spending measure that authorizes Arctic National Wildlife Refuge leasing. With 60 votes needed to override the filibuster, drilling proponents fell four votes short of invoking cloture Wednesday, Dec. 21 as Congress aims to wrap up the legislative session before the holiday recess.

Despite the Senate vote, ATA — which considers environmentally sound exploration of the Arctic refuge as part of a long-term strategy to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and increase national fuel supplies — expressed optimism for a favorable outcome for the trucking industry.

“The U.S. must be given opportunities to improve our energy situation,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “Without them, the trucking industry will continue to suffer, and the economic effects of rising fuel prices will only worsen. ATA strongly supports efforts that will increase national energy self-sufficiency and reduce vulnerability to future energy disruptions.”

ATA last week revised the trucking industry’s 2004 fuel costs and projected an increase in the amount it will spend on fuel in 2005. Despite recent dips in both diesel and gasoline prices, ATA said the trucking industry will spend $87.7 billion on fuel this year. This marks a $2.7 billion increase over the previous estimate of $85 billion issued in September.

Graves says despite recent fluctuations in energy prices, diesel costs remain the top concern of motor carriers. For many carriers, fuel represents the second-highest operating expense, accounting for as much as 25 percent of total operating costs. ATA recently called upon the Bush administration to implement strategic plans that could reduce U.S. reliance on overseas oil, including expanding refining capacity, establishing a single national fuel standard and environmentally sound exploration of the Arctic refuge.