Washington log haulers staging one-day fuel boycott

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Washington log haulers staging one-day fuel boycott
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]By Jill Dunn[/FONT]

Truckers are staging a 24-hour fuel boycott April 11 in Chehalis, Wash., in hope of garnering enough attention to gain some relief at the pump. Diesel in Chehalis was $4.32 per gallon late April 10; by midday April 11, it was nearly $4.70 per gallon.

As of 1 p.m. Pacific time, about 60 trucks had stopped by, parking on the west side of Interstate 5 at Exit 72 between Portland and Seattle, said organizer Sherrie Bond, who owns Bond Trucking in Chehalis with her husband, Bob.

Another 20 trucks were supposed to join them from Olympia, as well as log truckers after their work day, and lots of four-wheelers had participated as well, Bond said.

The protest is directed not at local distributors, she said, but at demonstrating the urgency of the problem. “There isn’t any understanding how fuel prices impact everyone’s lives,” she said.

Scheduled to speak were representatives of the Northwest Log Truckers Cooperative, of which Sherrie Bond is an officer, and of the Washington Contract Loggers Association, as well as local politicians and representatives of a delivery business and a school district.

Bond said she so far had been unsuccessful in contacting any members of Congress. She's circulating a petition requesting fuel-price hearings on Capitol Hill that include testimony from owner-operators, not just fleets.

The petition also urges that supplies be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as was done during Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91 and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 -- a move also urged on the Bush administration by the American Trucking Associations.

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama all have called on the Bush administration to at least stop putting fuel into the reserve. Instead, the U.S. Department of Energy plans to double the amount of fuel stockpiled there, in part to meet a U.S. commitment to the International Energy Agency.

The Bonds are passing out lists of phone numbers of U.S. senators, members of Congress, presidential candidates and George and Laura Bush. “You know how wives do,” Sherrie Bond said of adding the first lady to the list. “They elbow their husbands in the ribs and ask them to do something.”

Bob Bond, an owner-operator since 1960, can afford to run only two of his five trucks, his wife said; despite soaring diesel prices, he’s still being offered 1986 prices for loads. The Bonds recently were offered $1,000 for a run on which fuel would have cost $800, leaving $200 from which to pay all other costs.

Diesel around Chehalis is higher than in most parts of the country, but the Bonds’ plans have inspired truckers elsewhere into considering their own fuel boycott, Sherrie Bond said.

Fuel-supply experts argue that one- or two-day boycotts do nothing to change long-term purchasing patterns and therefore do nothing to bring down prices. Only a boycott lasting several consecutive months would have an effect, maintains the urban-legend website Snopes.com at www.snopes.com/politics/gasoline/nogas.asp.
 
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