Whittington becomes trucking group chairman

By Ryan C. Christiansen | October 14, 2008
The new chairman for the American Trucking Associations is also president of the 5 MMgy Integrity Biofuels biodiesel plant in Morristown, Ind., which opened in August 2006.

Charles "Shorty" Whittington is also president of Grammer Industries in Grammer, Ind., a trucking company that specializes in transporting anhydrous ammonia, liquefied petroleum gases, carbon dioxide, nitric acid and bulk liquid corrosive hazardous waste throughout the eastern half of the United States.

Whittington was named chairman during the ATA Management Conference and Exposition in New Orleans, La., on Oct. 7. He also serves on a number of boards, including the Indiana Motor Trucking Associations, the Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference, and the National Tank Truck Carriers. He is also active in many state propane and fertilizer trade associations.

According to the ATA's official biodiesel policy, which was published Sept. 29, the associations are concerned about both the quality and cost of biodiesel. The ATA is calling for federally-enforced biodiesel quality standards, a single national diesel fuel standard that would pre-empt state mandates, and financial incentives for the trucking industry to use biodiesel. Whittington said the ATA's policy will not change with him as chairman.

"The ATA's position is not going to change," he said. "The quality and economics are just not there for the trucking industry to embrace [biodiesel] yet. [Truckers] are not going to pay a premium for a product just because. Hopefully, we will get the economics turned around and understand that there is value, but we've got to roll up our sleeves and get down to the brass tacks here pretty quick."

An American Transportation Research Institute survey published Oct. 5 said the cost of fuel is at the top of the concern list among more than 5,000 trucking industry executives.

"Once [biodiesel is] competitive with diesel fuel at the pump, it won't take a mandate to sell biodiesel," Whittington said, "but until we get there, it's going to be a challenge."

Whittington said as chairman of the ATA, he won't be a stumbling block for the biodiesel industry. "I will certainly be a friend of the industry, but they've got to earn the business and so far, that has not been the case. Right's right and wrong's wrong and we've got a lot of work to do," he said.

"The good thing about [being chairman of the ATA and a biodiesel company president] is that, if anybody has got a question about the real story about biodiesel, I can explain it," Whittington said. "I feel I am very qualified to talk about that industry and get the right information out."
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