Desperate For Diesel

June 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Truck driver Clayton Hulse says record high diesel prices are driving people to do desperate things, including siphoning fuel. "He was getting set up to do me but he got caught. Some truckers saw him doing it and they didn't wait for the cops they just started wailing on him."Monday morning diesel was an average $5.13 a gallon in California. And the demand keeps going up. The state board of equalization says that between 2000 and 2007 sales of diesel went up 14%.

Hulse works for a large trucking company so he doesn't have to pay for his own fuel. But he says some friends who do are parking their trucks and getting out of the business. He says others are cutting corners by breaking the law. "Some guys are still running 2 log books. Instead of driving 11 hours they may drive 15 or 16 but log in it another log book so if they pull into a scale they're still legal."

Another way of making a few extra dollars, is stealing red fuel. It's diesel with red dye normally used by farmers that is tax exempt.

The state board of equalization says it issued 80 citations in 2007 to truck drivers caught red handed using red fuel. Hulse said, "They gotta make money and the only way they're going to be able to do that is to run illegal. Juan Ocguera wanted to fill up his tanks but stopped just before it got to $1,000 dollars. "I'm getting close to making even. Right now for me and every driver it's hard to be working right now."

California has the highest gas and diesel taxes in the country at 72 cents a gallon.