SPECIAL REPORT: OOIDA supports bill to stop ‘hot fuel’

| 8/6/2007

Monday, Aug. 06, 2007 – The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association strongly supports an effort by a U.S. senator from Missouri to require a computerized fix to the consumer rip-off known as “hot fuel.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, introduced the Future Accountability in Retail Fuel Act on Friday, Aug. 3, to require fuel retailers to install automatic temperature compensation devices on all retail fuel pumps.

“The senator deserves high marks for standing up for consumers and small businesses, especially truckers who use large quantities of fuel for their businesses,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

Refiners and wholesalers use a national standard of 60 degrees to buy and sell fuel, but there is no compensation for the temperature at the retail level. The bill by McCaskill targets the retail transaction. Reports indicate that hot fuel costs American consumers an extra $2.57 billion per year due to thermal expansion.

According to a McCaskill press release, the proposed FAIR Fuel Act would, if approved by the Senate and House and receive the president’s signature:

  • Require automatic temperature compensating equipment on all retail fuel pumps within six years after enactment;
  • Give the Federal Trade Commission, working in conjunction with National Institute for Standards and Technology, authority to implement the requirement with a final rule to be promulgated no later than one year after the enactment of the legislation;
  • Require state inspectors to determine if the equipment has been installed and report to the Federal Trade Commission during their annual inspections;
  • Gives a reprieve with follow-up inspections 180 days after the violation is found to first time offenders.  If on the second inspection, retailers are still found to be in violation, they will be fined $5,000 for each pump out of compliance; and
  • Establishes a grant fund for retailers, other than major integrated oil companies, who want assistance to pay for the new equipment. A retailer can receive $1,000 per pump, but no more than $10,000 per retailer.

Besides OOIDA, numerous consumer advocacy groups have endorsed McCaskill’s bill, including Public Citizen, Consumers Union, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, Consumer Federation of America and U.S. Public Interest Research Groups.

OOIDA is the national trade association for small-business professional truckers with 154,000 members from all 50 states and Canada. Recently, OOIDA launched a new Web site, turndownhotfuel.com, to provide facts and opinions about hot fuel.

McCaskill has been aware of the hot fuel issue for some time. She made hot fuel one of her campaign issues during her race for U.S. Senate in August 2006 against Republican Jim Talent.

– By David Tanner, staff writer