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- The Energy Information Administration’s weekly supply estimate of diesel fuel in the U.S. provides a snapshot of how much fuel the country has stored in a given week.
- The estimate doesn’t include diesel fuel processed at refineries or imported into the U.S.
- The number constantly fluctuates based on the current supply and demand of diesel fuel, it does not necessarily suggest diesel fuel is running out.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently told his viewers to expect economic chaos around Thanksgiving because the country would soon run out of diesel.
"Thanks to the Biden administration’s religious war in Ukraine, this country is about to run out of diesel fuel," he said during his Oct. 27 show.
Carlson said data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that the U.S. has only 25 days' worth of diesel fuel available that will run out "by the Monday of Thanksgiving week." The lack of diesel would spell doom for the country, he said.
"There will be no deliveries because there’ll be no trucks, there’ll be no diesel generators and then, invariably, our economy will crash because everything runs on diesel fuel," Carlson said. "Not on solar panels, not on wind farms — on diesel fuel."
But a fuel expert and the Energy Information Administration told PolitiFact the data Carlson cited isn’t proof the country will run out of diesel. The data shows how much diesel fuel the U.S. has left if there were no more production. Carlson’s claim ignores that refineries are constantly producing more diesel and that the U.S. continues to import fuel.
The Instagram posts repeating Carlson’s claim were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
A Fox News spokesperson said Carlson's claim was based on an article published on Fox Business about the country's diesel shortage. The article doesn’t mention diesel running out in the country.
Estimates showed there was 25 days’ worth of fuel at the time of Carlson’s broadcast. But that’s a representation of the current balance of supply and demand, not a sign that fuel is running out.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said the estimated number of days the country has of fuel in storage has been declining recently because of the production challenges refineries are facing, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
"But that number doesn’t represent (that) we’re going to run out by November, because refineries are constantly producing diesel," De Haan said. "It’s a theoretical number that, if refineries completely stopped, 100% shutdown across the country, that’s how many days of diesel supply we have."
He said the estimate dropped to as low as 26 days in 2019.
U.S. Energy Information Administration spokesperson Chris Higginbotham said the estimate represents only the amount of diesel in storage during a given week. The numbers do not account for fuel produced at U.S. refineries or imported into the country.
Although the U.S. is not expected to run out of diesel fuel, shortages caused by increased demand during the winter months will likely lead to even higher fuel prices and occasional disruptions, De Haan said.
The disruptions are expected to be felt the worst in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states because of higher demands to use distillate fuel as heating oil instead of diesel. De Haan said the region also lacks the refinery capabilities to produce as much diesel as it needs and relies heavily on imported fuel.
Carlson claimed that the U.S. is "about to run out of diesel fuel ... by the Monday of Thanksgiving week."
He cited data from the Energy Information Administration to back up his claim, but the agency and a fuel expert said the numbers estimate only how much fuel the country has stored; it doesn’t include fuel produced at refineries or imported into the U.S.
We rate this claim False.
PolitiFact contributing writer Becca Schimmel contributed research to this report.
Fox News, Tucker Carlson: The US is about to run out of diesel fuel (archive), Oct. 27, 2022
The Washington Post, "What ‘Backwardation’ Has to Do With US Diesel Squeeze," Oct. 26, 2022
Bloomberg, "The US Diesel Crisis Is Here and It's Spreading Along the East Coast," Oct. 25, 2022
Email with Jessica Ketner, Fox News spokeswoman, Nov. 6, 2022
Fox Business, "Low diesel supply threatens to worsen inflation crisis," Nov. 1, 2022
Email with Chris Higginbotham, spokesman for the Energy Information Administration, Nov. 3, 2022
U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly U.S. Days of Supply of Total Distillate, accessed Nov. 3, 2022
Phone Interview with Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, Nov. 3, 2022
Politico, "Biden pumps billions into the long war in Ukraine," Aug. 24, 2022
CNBC, "U.S. announces new sanctions on Russia in response to Ukraine annexation," Sept. 30, 2022
PolitiFact, "No, U.S. Army forces aren’t in Ukraine," Aug. 24, 2022
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