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Andy Nguyen
By Andy Nguyen November 7, 2022

Tucker Carlson misrepresents data to claim the US will run out of diesel fuel by Thanksgiving

If Your Time is short

  • 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."

Instagram posts shared a snippet from Carlson’s show and his claim that diesel fuel will run out in the U.S. to encourage voters to vote against Democrats this midterm election. 

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.

Carlson and the article cite the Energy Information Administration’s weekly supply estimate of distillate fuel oil, which includes diesel.

Although there have been signs of a diesel fuel shortage in the U.S., the weekly supply estimates do not suggest that reserves will soon be depleted. 

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. 

Our ruling

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. 

Our Sources

Fox News, Tucker Carlson: The US is about to run out of diesel fuel (archive), Oct. 27, 2022

Instagram post (archive), Oct. 31, 2022

Instagram post (archive), Oct. 30, 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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Tucker Carlson misrepresents data to claim the US will run out of diesel fuel by Thanksgiving

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