High prices, hot fuel on the agenda for federal hearing

| 5/11/2007

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH, is demanding answers from seven major oil companies about rising fuel prices.

Kucinich, chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – and a presidential candidate in the 2008 elections –called a subcommittee hearing for Thursday, June 7.

The main focus of the hearing is gasoline prices, but truckers will be interested to know that “hot fuel” is also on the agenda.

Hot fuel refers to diesel or gasoline sold to consumers at temperatures higher than 60 degrees, a century-old standard that defines a fuel gallon as containing 231 cubic inches.

Fuel, like all liquid, expands and contracts with temperature. Consumer plaintiffs involved in several lawsuits against fuel retailers and oil companies believe they are being ripped off at the pump when they fill up with hot fuel.

Kucinich sent letters in April to executives from BP Corporation North America, ConocoPhillips Company, Chevron USA Inc., Valero Energy Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Tesoro Corp. and Shell Oil Co. to probe about fuel prices.

Kucinich intends to question the oil giants on topics of fuel supplies, concentration of market shares, refining capacity, profit margins, temperature compensation, and about measures being taken to protect consumers.

“I have long been concerned about the activities of oil companies,” Kucinich said in a press release. “I will be asking them pointed questions to determine if manipulation is a factor in rising prices.

Renewable fuels, including ethanol and biodiesel, are also on the agenda.

– By David Tanner, staff writer