Maine truckers protest fuel prices; set up meeting with politicians

| 11/27/2007

Truckers in Maine are gearing up for a second meeting with state and national politicians on what skyrocketing diesel fuel prices are doing to their businesses.

OOIDA member Larry Sidelinger, owner of Yankee Pride Transport in Nobleboro, ME, is organizing a session for Dec. 1 in Damariscotta, ME. He attended a similar meeting earlier this month and was inspired.

“It was probably the most gut-wrenching meeting I’ve ever been to in my life and I’m not much of a political person going to these meetings. I’m a truck driver,” Sidelinger told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio.

Truckers in the logging industry organized the first meeting Nov. 17 in Lincoln, ME. That event drew 400 truckers and logging industry representatives along with more than a dozen federal, state and local politicians and officials.

“People in the logging industry talk about their businesses that employed 100 men or 120 men or 50 men a year-and-a-half ago or two years ago and now they’re down to 10 and 15 and skeleton crews (because of) what the high cost of fuel is doing to them,” Sidelinger said.

He said small companies and independent drivers are getting hit hard.

“The same thing is happening to us in the Northeast,” he said. “We’re buried under the high cost of fuel.”

Sidelinger said his fuel costs have increased from $2.66 per gallon average in January of this year to $3.66 a gallon as of this week.

The U.S. Energy Department reported Monday, Nov. 26, that diesel fuel prices are at an all-time record high. The department reported the national average price at $3.44 per gallon

The next meeting between truckers and politicians in Maine is set for 9 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, at the American Legion Hall on Business Route 1 in Damariscotta.

Some truckers have proposed waiving the state’s diesel fuel tax and suspending the sales tax on truck-related purchases.

But a spokesman for Maine Gov. John Baldacci said the state would lose too much revenue and that the governor would prefer seeing carriers form cooperatives to negotiate better deals on fuel.

– By Land Line staff