No surprise — U.S. diesel price again hits record high

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The national average retail price of a gallon of diesel climbed 3.4 cents for yet another record high of $4.177 for the week ending Monday, April 28. The price, which has soared 22.2 cents in the last three weeks, is $1.366 higher than the same week last year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

All regions tracked by DOE except one saw price increases. The largest increase by region, 5.7 cents, was found on the West Coast, where week-over-week prices climbed to $4.312. The smallest price increase by region, 0.6 cent, was in the Central Atlantic, where week-over-week prices rose to $4.376, the nation’s most expensive diesel by region. California, which DOE tracks separately, recorded the highest diesel price, $4.39; prices in that state climbed 7.3 cents last week.

The nation’s least expensive diesel by region, $4.113, was found on the Gulf Coast, where prices climbed 3.6 cents. The only region that didn’t see a price increase was New England, where prices were unchanged at $4.346. For state-by-state diesel prices, updated daily, click here.

Last week, a top trucking executive testified before Congress that releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves — combined with a temporary suspension of filling the SPR — would help stabilize petroleum markets, reduce global demand for crude oil and ultimately lower fuel prices.

Testifying on behalf of the American Trucking Associations before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Swift Transportation Vice President Dave Berry said releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was a key component of a comprehensive strategy to restore “rational behavior” to the petroleum markets.

“We know that the SPR does not contain enough oil to permanently alter the supply of crude oil in the marketplace,” Berry said. “But we believe strategic releases from the SPR could temporarily increase the supply of crude oil and hopefully help restore rational behavior to the petroleum markets. This type of government intervention could drive speculators out of the market and help ensure that petroleum prices are once again driven by supply and demand.”

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Berry, whose Phoenix-based truckload company operates more than 18,000 trucks, also asked the Committee to review the rules governing management of the SPR. Berry said because the current rules are subject to an international agreement, they limit the ability of the United States to address market irregularities with the reserves.

The dramatic increase in the price of diesel, which has coincided with a downturn in the economy and a softening demand for freight transportation, is hurting trucking companies nationwide, ATA says; today, it costs about $1,200 to fuel a tractor-trailer. Because trucks haul nearly all consumer goods, rising fuel costs have the potential to increase the cost of everything transported by truck, including food, retail and manufactured goods, according to ATA.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself Truckers and Citizens United on Monday, April 28, organized a convoy from Harrisburg, Pa., to RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., for a rally against diesel prices. Led by Pennsylvania owner-operator Mark Kirsch and J.B. Schaffner of the website The American Driver, the group urged motorists and business travelers to join the event — which it said involved participants from 26 states — and it also called for a May Day shutdown, “Round Two,” from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Thursday, May 1. The group’s website also urges sympathetic citizens to call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to tell their senators and representatives about their concerns.