The American Trucking Associations has announced its support for a bipartisan comprehensive energy bill that calls for domestic oil drilling, tax incentives, and alternative energy research to lower the price of fuel for the nation's 3.5 million truck drivers and American consumers.

ATA First Vice Chairman Charles “Shorty” Whittington and professional truck driver Tony Sifford spoke about the need for action on energy issues at a press conference held by United States Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX) at ATA's National Truck Driving Championships in Houston TX.

“Trucking delivers America. Trucks transport virtually 100 percent of groceries, medicine, clothing, appliances, and even the fuel that's pumped at the local gas station,” said Whittington. “Diesel fuel prices are hurting us and driving up the costs of all of these consumer goods. We need a comprehensive energy plan. The National Conservation, Environment, and Energy Independence Act is part of this comprehensive solution.”

If enacted, The National Conservation, Environment, and Energy Independence Act would increase domestic production of energy by allowing exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf and vast oil shale reserves; promote use of alternative energy sources such as biodiesel by extending the biodiesel tax credit; and target revenues produced from domestic oil leases to the development of energy conservation technologies. HR 6709 currently has 130 cosponsors.

“Petroleum's high price is not only straining family budgets at the pump; it's driving up the price of groceries and basic household goods because truckers are paying three time more for diesel than they did four years ago,” Lampson said. “This plan is a comprehensive energy solution that includes domestic drilling and alternative energy research. It will resolve the crisis American families are facing.”

Tony Sifford, a professional truck driver with more than 1.8 million accident-free miles, compared the year-over-year cost of fuel for his regular roundtrip route from Hillsville VA to Dallas TX. At this time in 2007, Sifford's fuel bill was $1,680. That same trip recently cost $2,826.

He said truck drivers are doing their part to reduce fuel consumption by slowing truck speeds, reducing idling, and properly maintaining equipment. Such steps, however, do not begin to offset the rising cost of fuel, he said.