ATA’s Spears calls on Biden and Congress to step up their games when it comes to energy independence

American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear pulled no punches, regarding the current state of gasoline prices in the United States, in calling on the Biden Administration and Congress “to get real about American energy independence.”

This objective laid out by the ATA’s top executive is very timely, considering that the national average price per gallon, for diesel gasoline, has topped the $4 mark over the last few weeks, coupled with both WTI and Brent Crude prices seeing steep increases over the same period, too, due, in large part to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Spear was clear and direct in addressing the need to the U.S. to be energy independent, saying: “the horrific war in Ukraine makes crystal clear why we need to increase domestic energy production, and must eliminate energy reliance on nations that pose a threat to our national and economic security.  The millions of Americans who keep our country moving forward should not be put in the position of having to spend a single dollar on Russian fuel that lines the war chest of a genocidal tyrant.”

And he did not stop there, adding that the nation’s addiction to foreign energy sources not only empowers America’s most dangerous adversaries, but it’s also having a serious impact right now on trucking’s ability to keep costs down for its customers and also throughout the supply chain.

“The trucking industry calls on the President and Congress to take immediate, concrete steps to increase domestic production and restart critical pipeline projects in the face of this clear and present danger,” he said. “We cannot afford to ignore our nation’s current energy needs in a fog of partisan idealism about the future of energy use. The trucking industry supports an all-of-the-above approach when it comes to securing our energy future. But the transition to cleaner and renewable fuels over the horizon requires a practical, common-sense bridge in the here-and-now, beginning with the abundant sources readily available here at home.”

Spear’s comments come at a time when there is a healthy amount of uncertainty as it relates to anxiety and concerns over the rapid escalation of energy prices, to be sure.

That was evident in a LinkedIn post by John Larkin, Strategic Advisor, Transportation & Logistics, for Clarendon Capital, that addressed the need for the Biden Administration to change its energy policy, with the caveat that the U.S. can transition to green energy over time, but fossil fuels are needed now to keep the economic recovery underway.

“[E]nergy prices are one of two big input costs for our industry,” wrote Larkin. “The price and availability of fossil fuels and labor have a material impact on our industry. Green policies, while needed, are completely impractical to implement in short order. The alternatives aren’t anywhere close to needed scale yet.”

Larkin is spot-on, in that there is room for both, but the current situation is dire, and things need to change, given how quickly gas and oil prices have gone up lately.

At the same time, it is encouraging to see that the Biden Administration recognizes action needs to be taken.

In last week’s State of the Union address, President Biden said that the U.S. is working with 30 other countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world, with the U.S. leading that effort and releasing 30 million barrels from its own Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and is prepared “to do more, if necessary, unified with our allies,” according to Biden.

As previously reported, that is not only a timely, but also a necessary step, given the pain at the pump for U.S. consumers and businesses alike, coupled with the fact that the U.S. continues to purchase oil from Russia, with about 8% of U.S. imports of oil and refined products, or about 672,000 barrels a day, coming from Russia last year, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

All of that said, more needs to be done. Like the recently-passed Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, these high prices impact all of us as consumers and businesses. It is not a partisan challenge, as it impacts us all. And right now, the situation is tough. Higher costs at the pump impact things and not for the better, especially for the supply chain and logistics operations and processes that move our freight and goods throughout the country. Let’s hope that resonates with our elected leaders and actions are taken to get these rising prices under control.  

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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