ATA endorses Lampson’s energy plan

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The American Trucking Associations on Thursday, Aug. 21, announced its support for a bipartisan comprehensive energy bill that calls for domestic oil drilling, tax incentives and alternative energy research to help lower the price of fuel for consumers and truckers.

ATA First Vice Chairman Charles “Shorty” Whittington and professional truck driver Tony Sifford spoke about the need for action on energy issues at a press conference held by U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) at ATA’s National Truck Driving Championships in Houston.

“Trucking delivers America,” Whittington said. “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.”

If enacted, the National Conservation, Environment and Energy Independence Act would increase domestic production of energy by allowing exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf and vast Oil Shale Reserves; promote the use of alternative energy sources, such as biodiesel, by extending the biodiesel tax credit to ensure that consumers are incentivized to use this renewable resource; and target revenues produced from domestic oil leases to the development of energy conservation technologies. H.R. 6709 currently has 130 cosponsors.

“Petroleum’s high price is not only straining family budgets at the pump, it’s driving up the price of groceries and basic household goods because truckers are paying three time more for diesel than they did four years ago,” Lampson said. “This plan is a comprehensive energy solution that includes domestic drilling and alternative energy research. It will resolve the crisis American families are facing.”

Sifford, a professional truck driver with more than 1.8 million accident-free miles, compared the year-over-year cost of fuel for his regular roundtrip route from Hillsville, Va., to Dallas: At this time last year, Sifford’s fuel bill was $1,680, but that same trip recently cost $2,826.

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Sifford said truck drivers are doing their part to reduce fuel consumption by slowing truck speeds, reducing idling and properly maintaining equipment. Such steps, however, do not begin to offset the rising cost of fuel, he said.

“I’m trying to do my part, but we can’t continue to run our business at these high prices,” Sifford said. “The high cost of diesel is cutting into our already tight margins. I’ve had a number of friends go out of business already this year.”