CHATHAM, ONT. As high diesel prices continue to eat away at the bottom line of fleets large and small, Chris Burruss, president of the Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA), believes trucking as a whole needs to come up an industry-wide energy policy focused on long-term solutions to the fuel cost crunch problem.
“Diesel prices are high and they are not going to change for the foreseeable future,” Burruss told FleetOwner at an International Truck and Engine Corp. symposium this week.
“We’re heading into winter soon and that means the need for diesel stocks are again going to compete with the need for home heating oil in the Northeastern U.S.,” he said. “That’s one reason why we need to develop an energy policy – we need to get the Northeast off home heating oil because they don’t need to use it to heat their homes and it can squeeze our industry’s supply of diesel significantly.”
Another issue is the concept of a mandatory fuel surcharge – an idea TCA supported but was opposed by the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) due to the legislative language. The mandatory fuel surcharge measure was eventually left out of the highway bill due to how divided the industry became over the wording issue, said Burruss.
“The language opened up the door to the recovery of lawyer’s fees and we didn’t want to get into that – that’s why we locked horns over the proposed fuel surcharge language,” he explained. “That being said, it doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying to do something about the high fuel costs truckers are dealing with. We need to start talking about what else we can do about fuel costs, because we especially need to help smaller carriers who can’t get their customers to pay fuel surcharges.”