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ATA President Spear Pushes Energy Independence

Fuel Price Surge Spurred by Russia's Invasion of Ukraine
Chris Spear
“We’re dealing in the now, and it’s time that our president, our House, our Senate, our decision-makers in Washington got real,” American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear says. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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ORLANDO, Fla. — With U.S. fuel prices rising at a record pace, achieving energy independence nationally would help the commercial transportation sector, American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said March 7. 

“U.S. domestic policy should be built on energy independence,” Spear said at the Technology & Maintenance Council 2022 Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition. “We have the fuel. We have the oil. We have the gas. We have the ability to be self-sustaining.”

According to the Energy Information Administration, the national average price for a gallon of diesel soared 74.5 cents a gallon in the past week, a figure experts said was attributable to the war launched by Russia against Ukraine. As diesel prices increase, the cost of shipping freight nationwide is likely to further disrupt supply chains.

“Foreign relations matters. Our industry may be domestic, but this is a tremendous headwind. We not only have to support the people in Ukraine; be victorious, preserving democracy and to bring stability into the global markets,” he said. Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Spear said, “Why we’re reliant on a genocidal tyrant for his oil is beyond comprehension.”

Acknowledging a full-scale industry pivot to alternative sources of energy is forthcoming, he urged elected officials to provide near-term solutions for rising fuel prices.

“We’re dealing in the now, and it’s time that our president, our House, our Senate, our decision-makers in Washington got real,” Spear added. “We need a bridge, and we need it now. Not 10, 15 years from now. Right now.”

We cannot afford to ignore our nation’s current energy needs in a fog of partisan idealism about the future of energy use.

ATA President Chris Spear

In a March 5 ATA statement on the same topic, Spear said, “We cannot afford to ignore our nation’s current energy needs in a fog of partisan idealism about the future of energy use. The trucking industry supports an all-of-the-above approach when it comes to securing our energy future. But the transition to cleaner and renewable fuels over the horizon requires a practical, common-sense bridge in the here-and-now, beginning with the abundant sources readily available here at home.” 

He added, “Our addiction to foreign energy sources not only empowers America’s most dangerous adversaries, but it’s also having a serious impact right now on our industry’s ability to keep costs down for our customers throughout the supply chain. The trucking industry calls on the president and Congress to take immediate, concrete steps to increase domestic production and restart critical pipeline projects in the face of this clear and present danger.”


Learn about real-world adoption strategies for self-driving trucks with Robert Brown of Spartan Radar and Charlie Jatt of Waymo. Hear a snippet above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

On March 8, Spear shared similar remarks with attendees at the ATA Moving & Storage Conference Annual Meeting, also held here. He pointed to that conference’s potential for expansion and realizing opportunities across the industry. 

“This is the beginning of something truly remarkable,” Spear said. “I think the staff, the structure, the programs support … we’ve taken a considerable amount of time to fill the foundation that many of your leaders sought.”

He emphasized, “I like the direction that comes from a meeting like this. We’re able to understand what we’re doing well. And most importantly where we need to improve. And this being our first meeting, the feedback has been extraordinary.”

In his address to the TMC 2022 audience, Spear also cited a recent partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor and last year’s enactment of a $1 trillion infrastructure law as federal actions beneficial for the industry.


Labor Secretary Marty Walsh (left), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg 

On March 1, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, joined by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and ATA leaders, signed an agreement to formally establish ATA as an official registered apprenticeship sponsor.

The ceremony centered on a 90-day apprenticeship challenge from the Biden administration. Specifically, the challenge is meant to recruit employers interested in developing Registered Apprenticeship programs designed to provide paid, on-the-job training.

The $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted Nov. 15, approved provisions aimed at boosting workforce opportunities for truck drivers. They included an apprenticeship for truckers younger than 21 to drive interstate, a women-in-trucking outreach program and a truck-leasing task force.

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