Truckers protest sky-high gasoline prices

The $4.20 per-gallon-average cost of diesel means some drivers just break even.

.WASHINGTON (AP) – Truck drivers honked horns, waived placards and shouted through bullhorns at the Capitol on Monday to protest rising gas prices they say are hurting their livelihood.

Members of Truckers and Citizens United circled the National Mall before parking their rigs at RFK Stadium. From there, about 100 protesters marched and took shuttles to the Capitol, where an afternoon rally was held.

“The high price for oil is hurting our economy,” organizer Mark Kirsch said. “It’s hurting middle class people.”

The national average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is a record $3.51, according to a recent survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. The price for diesel – used to transport most food, industrial and commercial goods – is $4.20 a gallon.

Dave Gares, an independent trucker from Lebanon, Pa., said the $1,400 it costs to fill up his tractor-trailer with 220 gallons of diesel fuel has been a drain on his income.

William Lockridge of the Washington Metropolitan Area Truckers Association said independent truckers are barely breaking even. “If the truck stops, the economy stops,” he said.

The truckers are urging Congress to stop subsidizing big oil companies, release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and end exports of oil from Alaska, among other things.

One passenger circling the Mall held a sign that read “Enough is Enough,” and a driver used a bullhorn to yell at Congress as he passed by.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who met with members of Truckers and Citizens United, said it’s clear the truckers are suffering.

“It’s particularly heartbreaking to hear their stories, because not only is there an economic slow down, which means they are hauling less,” but a surge in diesel prices adds more burdens, he said.

Nathan and Tara Horn of Normal, Ill., said they were visiting museums and other sites, but came to the Capitol to see the truckers’ protest.

“Just knowing the influence that our citizens have to talk to our congressmen and senators … This is awesome,” said Nathan Horn, stopping to watch the trucks pass in the rain.”

Traffic was not significantly affected by the convoy of vehicles, though a few truckers drove through red lights as they honked their horns.

A similar protest in Pierre, S.D., drew about a dozen trucks. An organizer said drivers decided not to attend because they couldn’t afford the diesel.

Truck drivers are planning a similar protest Thursday in New York City and another unspecified event May 5. Organizers said Wall Street is responsible for driving up prices with no regulation from Congress.