Truckstops, trucking companies spar�over price gouging issue

| Friday, March 07, 2003

William Fay, president of Natso (representing travel plazas and truckstops), described as shallow an American Trucking Associations' appeal to each state's attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission to watch for fuel price gouging.

"It is sad that the trucking industry has decided to ignore the geopolitical factors that have sent crude oil prices skyrocketing and instead point fingers at a trucking community partner, America's truckstops," Fay said in a letter to ATA President Bill Graves and all 50 state attorneys general.

"Throughout the decades, crude oil prices go up and diesel prices go up. Then the price of crude goes down and diesel prices go down," Fay said. "Although we never hear mea culpas after prices go down, users unfortunately want to seek out scapegoats when prices shoot up."

He noted factors well beyond the control of truckstops and other fuel retailers are responsible for diesel prices averaging more than $1.75 per gallon across the United States, hitting close to $2 a gallon in parts of the Northeast.

For example, Fay pointed to crude oil prices, which are hovering at a two-year high of more than $36 a barrel – double the $18 per barrel price from just one year ago. The price has skyrocketed as supplies have tightened, largely due to the possibility of war with Iraq and a more than two-month long strike by Venezuela's oil industry, which has reduced that country’s daily oil production to 3 million barrels from 500,000 barrels a day, Fay said.

"Natso welcomes any investigation by attorneys general, but remind them that there have been myriad investigation over the last several decades. Not one single investigation has ever turned up evidence of gouging or price-fixing," Fay said.

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