ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Biden administration is considering tapping a rarely used diesel reserve to help ease the pain at the gas pump as inflation continues to drive up prices.
Diesel prices sky-rocketed in the past year, soaring to a staggering $5.57. Last year, the average cost for a gallon of diesel was around $3.00.
Imagine paying today’s price to fill up more than 100 gallons. That’s what truckers are facing across the country.
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“Last week, somebody came and paid $1,200 to fill his tanks. The gas attendant was shocked. She was like, ‘I’ve never seen this in my life,’” said truck driver, Fred Amisi.
Fred Amisi has been driving a commercial truck for four years. He says he could fill his 120-gallon tank for around $300 back in December. Now, it costs him around $450.
“It’s so painful, because these prices are affecting the profits that we make,” said Amisi.
Alix Miller, the president and CEO of Florida’s Trucking Association, says it’s bad for business and consumers. Families may not pay the diesel cost upfront, but will see the impact at the grocery store and other retail stores.
“Everything we bring, eat, touch, wear, drive on is brought to you by a truck, and when prices increase by $2 a gallon, it makes it incredibly difficult to continue to do business and deliver freight,” Miller said.
Miller added fuel surcharges are in place, but the majority of trucking companies don’t have the buying power or negotiating power when it comes to fuel or contracts for their loads.
“Ninety-seven percent of trucking companies are considered small businesses. That’s 20 trucks or less,” said Miller. “Sometimes, when you are negotiating a contract, you have to do it based on the fuel prices of that moment, not in anticipation of what could happen. So, what we’re seeing is a lot of the smaller businesses — the contract that has been signed and negotiated for further out. There is a significant loss too when it comes to how much that costs and how much a carrier requires.”
News 6 asked the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy about the problem and possible solutions. Patrick De Haan said most of the solutions are short-term, noting the challenge of a global energy crunch.
“Until we find, you know, a way to offset a loss in oil production from Russia, we probably won’t see gas prices decline in a meaningful way,” De Haan said.
With Memorial Day weekend just days away, demand is high, and there’s no relief in sight.
“I do think motorists are going to have to be a little bit patient because we don’t expect much relief, and if there’s a major hurricane or unexpected refinery disruption, we could see gas prices go even higher,” he said.