Truckers bemoan fuel costs during Congressional hearing

Truckers bemoan fuel costs during Congressional hearing

Chris Milburn, a trucker testifying on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn., told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that fuel costs are the single biggest annual operating expense of small business truckers in testimony at a hearing last week on “The American Initiative: A Focus on Rising Gasoline Prices.”

“Trucking is a hyper-competitive business and each of us operates on extremely thin margins, so any cost increase related to fuel has an impact, and is even more significant when you consider it in context of the snowballing costs of regulations coming out of agencies like the Dept. of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Milburn of Hilliard, OH, a professional truck driver for nearly 10 years.

Milburn pointed out that 93% of the nation’s motor carriers own 20 or fewer trucks, emphasizing the extra burden carried by businesses like his when fuel prices skyrocket.

He explained all the different costs of operating a small-trucking business and then drew the connection to the consequences of regulatory overload as well as domestic energy production.

“In the past, U.S. production has effectively served as a relief valve by helping to mitigate price spikes.  However, the strength of that relief has decreased as regulatory roadblocks have reduced domestic production on federal lands and waters. Impeding domestic production is something truckers find very difficult to understand, particularly during these high energy prices,” he said.

“Trust me when I tell you that no government agency is more motivated than I am to make certain that I am running my vehicle as efficiently as possible.  I do not need government regulations telling me how to operate efficiently or forcing me to buy a truck that meets some prescribed government efficiency standard, but that misses the operating and efficiency standards I need for my business,” Milburn said.

Ryan Bowley, OOIDA government affairs, said that OOIDA has long supported energy policies focused on addressing the impact of energy costs on small-business truckers. 

“We support a comprehensive approach that combines increasing domestic energy production with other efforts, including greater market transparency, increasing the focus on natural gas as a future energy source and passing a new surface transportation bill,” Bowley said. 

Understanding that for small-business truckers, fuel costs are the single biggest annual operating expense, OOIDA said it believes regulations proposed by EPA and NHTSA are largely unnecessary and impose burdens with no environmental or efficiency benefits.

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