SPECIAL REPORT: DeFazio widens fuel surcharge net

| 5/23/2008

Friday, May 23, 2008 – Brokers and middlemen making a buck off of fuel surcharges paid on Department of Defense loads may very well see those days come to an end.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, introduced an amendment on Thursday to the 2009 Department of Defense Authorization bill that if passed into law will mandate that 100 percent of surcharges paid by the government will be passed through to the trucker actually buying the fuel.

“This legislation will help truckers, who are hard hit by skyrocketing fuel prices, get what is rightfully theirs,” DeFazio said. “This will ease some of the pressure they are feeling at the pump and help keep them in business.”

The amendment was added to the bill on a voice vote and the House approved the full bill with a vote of 383 to 26.

DeFazio offered the amendment to ensure that fuel surcharges are passed onto independent truckers. Because of the sharp rise in the cost of transporting goods by truck, brokers are assessing fuel charges on shippers in order to cover the increased cost of hauling their goods.

However, those surcharges often are not being passed onto independent truckers who are purchasing the fuel, according to a DeFazio press release. Although every American driver is affected by these dramatic gas increases, the rise in diesel fuel costs has had a particularly significant impact on the trucking industry.

Under the amendment, shippers under contract to the DoD would be required to pass through the fuel surcharge to the person who actually pays for the fuel on all trucking contracts. The broker must also disclose any fuel surcharge publicly, including posting it online, and the Secretary of Defense is directed to prescribe regulations to ensure enforcement.

This isn’t the first legislation DeFazio has filed in an attempt to ease the pain of truckers facing nearly $5 a gallon diesel.

A bill introduced May 6 by DeFazio and co-sponsored by Rep. Thomas Petri, R-WI, and Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-IN, seeks to mandate 100 percent pass-through of fuel surcharges to whoever actually buys the fuel on all loads.

The bill, HR5977, “Truth in Reliable Understanding of Consumer Costs Act,” or the “TRUCC Act,” is identical to a bill introduced in the Senate in late April by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME, and co-sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor