A little relief?

| June 01, 2006

Arriving at fuel islands means worrying about what you will pay for diesel as prices remain unpredictable.

President Bush announced measures April 25 to try to stem increases in retail fuel prices, and Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations, applauded the initiatives.

Bush is delaying this summer’s deposits to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an emergency stockpile of government-owned crude oil. “So by deferring deposits until the fall, we’ll leave a little more oil on the market,” Bush said during a speech in Washington at the Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group for the ethanol industry. “Every little bit helps.”

The plan calls for making sure consumers and taxpayers are treated fairly, promoting greater fuel efficiency, boosting the U.S. gasoline supply and investing aggressively in gasoline alternatives. Bush also has ordered a federal investigation into possible cheating, price gouging or illegal manipulation in the gasoline markets. And he gave the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to suspend regional clean-fuel standards where it would help to maintain adequate fuel supplies.

The EPA option does not mean the agency will relax its engine emission requirements to allow for lower-quality fuel to be sold, said John Millett, an EPA spokesman.

“When there is an extreme or unusual fuel supply circumstance,” he said, EPA can temporarily waive certain standards. “The president was just reminding people of that if it does become a problem, the EPA can act to relieve those problems.”

Millett said such suspensions are formed federally but only over specific areas, and for limited amounts of time.

The U.S. trucking industry, which moves 70 percent of domestic freight, is on schedule to pay $6.6 billion more for fuel this year than last – a total of $94.3 billion, Graves said. “The actions announced by the White House have the support of our motor carriers,” he said. “In the long term, to do our job, we need an assured and adequate supply of fuel along with price stability. While energy conservation and the eventual conversion to new fuels may be the right way to go, each has to be done in a manner that will allow us to continue to move America’s goods ands products efficiently.”
-From Staff Reports


Homeland Security to Check Backgrounds of Port Truckers
In an effort to step up security at U.S. ports, the Department of Homeland Security will begin checking the names of all port workers, including truckers, against lists of suspected terrorists and will expedite its plan to issue identification cards, the agency announced April 25.

“It is fundamental that individuals who pose a security threat do not gain access to our nation’s ports,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “The name-based checks will provide an immediate security boost while we simultaneously complete the work to implement a secure national transportation worker credential.”

DHS will begin conducting name-based background checks on nearly 400,000 port workers in the United States, Chertoff announced. The preliminary name checks, which will cover longshoremen and maritime employees of facility owners and operators, will be completed by summer, Chertoff said. TSA will vet the names against terrorist watch lists through the Terrorist Screening Center and through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to see whether workers are in the country legally.

The checks will be followed by the rollout of a national Transportation Worker Identification Credential later this year.

DHS has been developing such a card for several years but decided to speed up the process. Port security has been broadly criticized recently in the wake of the federal government’s announcement that some port assets were to be sold to a company based in Dubai, a plan since scrapped.

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