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Tonnage and Energy

By Randy Mullett | 02/17/2014 | 7:13 AM

During a recent presentation on economic and motor carrier industry trends, Bob Costello, Chief Economist and Vice President of the American Trucking Associations, made the timely point that the U.S. energy production boom is boosting truck tonnage, even against the headwinds of tepid manufacturing and cautious consumers.  

According to the ATA, there was a 5.2 percent year-over-year increase in tonnage from January through September, 2013, but only a .6 percent increase in TL loads - a minimal increase largely carried by tank shipments, which grew 6 percent year over year for Jan-Sept. and 4.6 percent year over year for Q3.

These shipments, including water, sand, and chemicals for fracking, represented a welcome boon in an otherwise challenging year for trucking. Rail tonnage was also propped up last year by oil shipments while coal continued to decline. 

The growth of domestic oil and natural gas energy is offsetting declines in other segments in our economy, creating jobs and providing a valuable use of both trucking and rail assets (equipment and professionals) as manufacturing and retail continue to recover. Additionally, these domestic energy resources will help provide cleaner and less expensive energy alternatives for our industry. A comprehensive national energy policy—and approval of the Keystone pipeline—could shift this into high gear.


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About Randy Mullett

Randy Mullett

C. Randal (Randy) Mullett is founder and principal of Mullett Strategies, LLC. Helping clients navigate the intricacies of Washington, DC, he focuses on transportation/freight policy, sustainability, security, and issue advocacy messaging. Prior to his current role, Mullett was vice president, government relations and public affairs, for XPO Logistics (previously Con-way Inc.) As a member of Con-way's Executive Leadership Team, he had responsibility for all government relations, corporate security, and public affairs activities including PR, corporate communication, brand management, social media, and corporate social responsibility. Additionally, he was Con-way's Chief Sustainability Officer and President of the Con-way Foundation.

Before going to Washington, he spent 25 years in LTL trucking operations and sales management. He served on the board of directors of the National Association of Manufacturers, The American Trucking Associations, The Cargo Airlines Association, The American Benefits Council, and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America. Additionally, he is a member of the USDOT's National Freight Advisory Committee and DHS's Highway and Motor Carrier Sector Coordinating Committee. A resident of Berryville, Va., Mr. Mullet holds a bachelor's degree from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.V., and an MBA from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.


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