Letters: Arrow Trucking, Dangerous Loophole, Support for Biofuels

These letters appear in the Jan. 11 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Arrow Trucking

When the drivers at Arrow Trucking received that message telling them to take their trucks to the nearest dealership (1-4, p. 3; click here for previous story), I hope all of them drove their trucks to their homes, unloaded all their gear and then called Arrow and told them to come pick up their truck.

One of these days, truckers are going to shut these highways down, with the way these trucking companies, shippers and receivers treat us.

George McCray
Oakwood, Ohio

Dangerous Loophole

Since the early days of motor carrier deregulation, it’s been blindly overlooked that any truck driver’s cousin, brother or girlfriend simply can call any national motor carrier or licensed broker in the country and become an independent agent, representative or affiliate, and solicit freight with shippers on behalf of that carrier.

Untold numbers of these so-called freight agents lack even a minimum amount of local, state or federal statutory or safety knowledge for transporting the hazardous or dangerous commodities being shipped daily across state lines on our highways.

More often than not, this can be set up over the phone without the agent even leaving home. Neither carriers nor brokers even ask potential agents about their competency or knowledge of transportation law.

Terrorists already could be representing unknowing and unaware carriers and brokers, using innocent 18-wheeler drivers and their trucks to ship nuclear devices or other weapons all over the country without a background check or identity verification.

No license or testing is required by the carriers, state or federal government for independent agents of motor carriers who arrange interstate shipments.

For decades, we’ve been concerned about missiles pointed at us from where they sit, 90 miles offshore. What we should be worried about is what already is here, sitting in our warehouses.

My proposal is for at least a background check for licenses, along with independent, supervised testing for potential agents and those already established.

Testing should consist of three parts: state and local laws, federal knowledge necessary for transporting goods across state lines and a general-knowledge test about the industry. It should include important items such as state weight requirements, and packaging and securing loads while in transit.

Agents should need licenses in order to work with a national motor carrier or licensed broker.

This situation was allowed to develop after deregulation because if carriers and brokers move one load with these agents, that’s one more dollar than without them. Also, carriers and brokers believe the hold-harmless clause in their contracts means they have no risk.

We need to make our country and its highways safe from the fly-by-nights.

John Rieger
Trucking 48 Inc.

Support for Biofuels

The United States Congress needs to expend more energy on the biofuels industry now.

Congress left Washington for its Christmas vacation and left behind no action on the extension of the federal tax credit that provided producers of biodiesel $1 for every gallon made. That tax credit expired at the end of the year.

The very major economic and national security issue that arises because of the expiration of the biodiesel tax credit is that the production and use of biodiesel in the United States will cease.

How can Congress abandon one of the earliest and potentially most productive of the first generation of a biofuel that, over time, will be a significant component in reducing America’s dependence on foreign fossil fuels?

Without the $1 tax credit, all of the biodiesel producing plants in the nation will have to shut down. Many have done so already, costing thousands of “green” jobs and wreaking financial hardships on American entrepreneurs and investors who saw biodiesel production as a new opportunity to begin business, while at the same time helping decrease foreign oil dependency.

Even with a decline in gasoline and diesel prices over the recent past, the continued production and distribution of biofuels — among them biodiesel, made primarily from soybeans — is in the vital national interest of the United States. Using homegrown biofuels from America’s Midwest is certainly preferable to the continued importation of fossil fuels from the Middle East.

Now is no time to abandon ship on any components of our national

biofuels development program. The private sector and the federal government have too much invested in biofuels to let the biodiesel industry fail because of congressional inaction.

Congress needs to fix this problem and fix it quickly. Not to do so brings into question the commitment of government to seriously addressing the development and distribution of biofuels when the nation is just beginning to understand their significant value and importance.

Members of Congress need to act quickly on the extension of the biodiesel tax credit before an industry is lost and our nation suffers another failed attempt to reduce our still voracious dependency on foreign oil.

Fletcher Hall
Chairman and CEO
F.R. Hall & Associates LLC
Potomac, Md.

Editor’s Note: Several biofuel makers recently have announced they are shutting down as a result of the cut of this subsidy (see story, p. 2; click here for story). Fletcher Hall is a former executive director of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference of American Trucking Associations.