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Why every American should care that diesel prices are surging across the country

Why every American should care that diesel prices are surging across the country

Gasoline prices are increasing almost daily, pinching the wallets and pocketbooks of nearly all Americans with cars. However, as bad as that news is, diesel prices are surging even more across the country. Today’s truckstop retail diesel prices hit a new record of $5.32/gallon. Since February 1st, national truckstop diesel prices have increased by $1.57/gallon. For an owner-operator whose truck gets 6.5 miles per gallon, this equates to a cost increase of $0.24 per mile.

A graph showing the price of diesel per gallon.

Diesel’s importance to our economy

To many Americans (including politicians), diesel prices are so removed from their version of reality that they often dismiss the importance of diesel to the U.S. and global economies. However, diesel is the fuel that drives the economy and leaves major industries vulnerable to cost shocks.

Without diesel fuel, the U.S. economy would collapse in a matter of days. Our supply chains would completely shrivel, almost overnight.

Trucks use it to haul our goods across the country. Of all Class 8 trucks (the big ones), 97% use diesel. No, Elon Musk is not going to save us here. When Tesla announced the Semi in 2017, Musk projected that over 100,000 would be produced by 2022. Today there are less than 20, mostly prototypes.

Trains also depend on diesel to transport products across the country. Almost every train in the country depends on diesel for energy.

An orange BNSF train hauls coal
A BNSF train hauls coal. (Photo: Flickr/Aaron Hockley)

Even a large portion of our electricity is indirectly powered by diesel. Over one-fifth (22%) of our electricity in the United States comes from coal. Diesel-powered trains transport coal to power plants across the nation.

Diesel is also critical to our imports and exports, because 80% of the ships that transport products via the ocean are powered by diesel.

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