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ATA and NATSO Spar Over Price Gouging Concerns

| April 07, 2005

As diesel fuel prices continued to rise in early March, the American Trucking Associations asked the 50 state attorneys general to watch out for “potential diesel fuel price gouging.” ATA’s concerns drew criticism for the truckstop industry.

Diesel averaged $1.753 at the pump for the week that ended March 3, reported the U.S. Department of Energy. The highest regional prices were $1.954 in New England and $1.921 in the central Atlantic states.

Writing to each of the attorneys general, ATA President Bill Graves asked that they be prepared “to utilize your state’s general consumer protection laws to combat” illegal pricing.

“America’s motor carriers just can’t afford such an uncalled-for economic burden at a time when we’re working to help lift up our economy,” said Graves. “Further, as America readies for war, the trucking industry is hauling the equipment, the ammunition and supplies that our troops will need. Price gouging doesn’t just hurt our member motor carriers, but can hurt our troops as well.”

In a letter response to Graves and state attorneys general, William Fay, president of NATSO, a national trade association that represents the travel plaza and truckstop industry, said, “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.”

Elected officials nationwide also expressed concern about possible price gouging. Some have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate possible price gouging.

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

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