High Diesel Prices Could Make Holiday Shoppers Pay

All of us have seen and sighed with relief at the falling fuel prices of the last couple of weeks. But, there are many folks who are paying more than ever at the pump for diesel, and those rising prices could make all of us pay.

"Those people who own their own trucks, I don't see how they keep them on the road with as high as it is," says Longview truck driver Walter Ward.

The trucks keep pulling in, and this sign means the drivers are losing green. Two years ago, diesel was cheaper than unleaded, under $1.50. Since then it has risen steadily, and now peaks at nearly $3.20 a gallon.

For many drivers, a  breaking point is near.

"There are lots of companies going under and some of my friends have lost their trucks," says Idaho truck driver Fred Roe.

Paul Pelton of Tyler Moving and Storage agrees: "I've been in the business for 18 years, and I've never seen the fuel charges that are 15 percent of what the transportation cost is."

Pelton's been able to see the cost of diesel begin to affect everyone, just in time for the holiday shopping season.

"That [higher] cost has to be passed onto the consumer, or else your freight companies are not going to be profitable. They will not be able to meet supply and demand if they aren't able to make a profit," Pelton says.

If they don't profit, they won't stay in business. Analysts are warning about higher prices for toys, any kind of plastics, even Christmas trees trucked in from up north.  They're all tied to the price of diesel.

"Until they come up with alternative fuels, it's going to be tough and everyone's going to have to pay for it," Pelton adds.

Drivers say they must be paid more now while they watch and hope for their cost of working and living to come down.

"When you can put $500 in your tank and [the gauge] goes above halfway, you know you've done something," says driver Jamie McNary of filling up in Smith County Tuesday.

Despite the pain at the pump, the first of the major oil and gas companies is now reporting profits through the roof.

BP reported a 34 percent jump in profits over the same period a year ago, despite production being off two percent and some of their offshore facilities damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Irving-based Exxon-Mobil as well as Shell Oil announce earnings later this week.

Morgan Palmer, reporting. morganpalmer@kltv.com