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Vote on “Hot Fuel” Fails: Consumer-Friendly Proposal Rejected by Measurement Experts

July 12, 2007

Vote on “Hot Fuel” Fails: Consumer-Friendly Proposal Rejected by Measurement Experts

Statement by Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook

While the majority of members (24-16) of the National Conference on Weights and Measures voted late Wednesday for a proposal to address the issue of  “hot fuel” by allowing gas station owners to voluntarily retrofit gas pumps with temperature-compensation technology, it failed to get the required 27 votes that would have passed the motion.

The problem of hot fuel arises when the volume of fuel expands with temperature changes. Hotter fuel has less energy in each gallon than cooler fuel. Regardless of whether fuel temperature rises due to radiant heat from the sun or the refinery process, the results are the same: Consumers pay more for less energy.

According to Judy Cardin, the new chair of the Conference, members felt the linchpin of the proposal was incomplete because it was voluntary and would fail to result in an equitable outcome. She added that, even though 16 members opposed the proposal, none of the group is in favor of consumers being forced to pay more for hot fuel. 

Public Citizen is disappointed that consumer interests on this issue have been tabled for another year, but citizens can use that time to take action by contacting their representatives in Congress and demanding a law requiring the necessary technology to eliminate the hot fuel problem.   Congress needs to hear that the public won’t stand for these gasoline overcharges any longer, and it needs to get to work on the issue without further delay. 

As for Cardin, she maintains that the proposal is staying “at the top of the agenda,” and that Conference members, along with a variety of stakeholders – including consumer groups – are going to tackle the related issues of fuel density and formulations and move forward on requiring mandatory gas pump retrofitting.