Effort to curb ‘hot fuel’ likely doomed in Texas

| 5/11/2007

An effort in the Texas House that would make sure consumers in the state get what they pay for at the fuel pump is likely dead. A similar effort is sidelined in Missouri.

The first-of-its-kind bill would have required a gallon of diesel or gas in Texas to have its volume adjusted for temperature. Sponsored by Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, the measure was left pending after discussion in the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee, effectively killing it for the year.

Not accounting for the temperature change leads to what is commonly referred to as “hot fuel.” The change in temperature is an issue because when fuel gets hot and expands the amount of energy it produces drops significantly.

Solomons’ bill – HB37 – also would have specified the size of a gallon of fuel in each of 10 sections in the state. Those sections were originally established to estimate electrical usage, which also is affected by climate differences.

It also would have required that consumers purchasing fuel in a district with fuel temperatures above 60 degrees to get a larger gallon than the current 231 cubic inches. The 60-degree mark is a century-old agreed-upon standard for the petroleum industry.

The average fuel temperature in Texas is 78 degrees, according to published reports.

“(The bill is) designed to let consumers have the same benefits as manufacturers and retailers who buy a gallon and get a gallon but consumers in hot weather really don’t get a gallon if temperature is not regulated,” Solomons told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio before the bill’s setback in committee.

The Texas Department of Agriculture would have been required to regulate and enforce the temperature-adjusted fuel.

Solomons told committee members that Texas should be proactive on the issue and not relegate itself simply to studies.

“I just don’t want to study it. We ought to do something about this more affirmatively … the technology is here,” Solomons said.

Panelists said it’s an interesting issue that deserves future discussion.
A similar effort is stalled in the Missouri House. Sponsored by Rep. Kate Meiners, D-Kansas City, the bill would have required a gallon of diesel or gasoline to have its volume adjusted for changes in temperature.

The bill – HB105 – would have divided the state into 10 districts. The Missouri Department of Agriculture would be required to tailor a temperature-adjusted gallon for each district based on the area’s average temperature.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Senior Correspondent Terry Scruton contributed to this report.