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CNN Today

Truckers Protest High Fuel Prices

Aired March 16, 2000 - 1:02 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Today's rally on Wall Street comes despite new evidence that soaring oil prices could rekindle inflation throughout the U.S. economy. The government says the producer price index surged one full percentage point last month, the biggest jump in almost a decade. The main cause: energy prices, including gasoline and home heating oil.

Truckers converged on Washington today to protest high fuel prices.

CNN's Kathleen Koch is on Capitol Hill -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, it's Trucker Protest Two, the sequel. But this time, turnout may be even lower than the 300 drivers that converged on the nation's capitol three weeks ago. Drivers, organizers here say that, with diesel fuel prices more than double what they were just one year ago, many drivers simply could not afford to make the trip. They say that filling up -- the cost of filling up those 150-gallon tanks every single day has caused some drivers to simply consider calling it quits.

At a Capitol Hill rally, some drivers are venting their anger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG SORANTINO, NEW JERSEY TRUCKER: We are not here to scream wolf; we are not crying wolf; we are telling you the truth. The industry is going to go broke. We were 300,000 trucks short in '99. We're going to be 500,000, 600,000 short this year. And I don't have to tell you what's going to happen when that happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: What would happen, perhaps, is goods having a hard time getting to market, and once they do get to store shelves, costing more. Some truckers are predicting higher prices, even shortages, by the end of the summer.

Truckers are asking Congress to help by, first of all, opening the tap on the federal petroleum reserve. They also would like to see an immediate emergency-aid package that could help them keep operating. And they want Congress to get tougher with OPEC, the oil- producing cartel. Now, Congress is considering legislation that would do just that, that would stop U.S. aid and arm sales to any countries that are considered to be guilty of fixing oil prices. Now, a vote on the measure, that is introduced in the House, could come as early as next week. And sponsors of a similar measure in the Senate are also promising a swift approval.

Reporting live in Washington, I'm Kathleen Koch.

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