Amendment would require temperature-compensating fuel pumps

| Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fuel retailers should be required to eliminate the “hot fuel” problem by installing temperature-compensation equipment on all fuel pumps, a U.S. senator from Missouri says.

Monday, June 18, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, submitted a Senate amendment to a large-scale House bill called the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 – HR6. McCaskill’s amendment would require fuel retailers to install temperature compensation equipment on all pumps so consumers get a consistent amount of fuel energy every time they fill up.

“Beginning 90 days after the issuance of final regulations ... all motor fuel dispensers that are newly installed or upgraded at any retail fuel establishment in the United States shall be equipped with automatic temperature compensation equipment ...,” the amendment states.

The amendment also calls for penalties, including $5,000 fines per pump, per violation, and an inspection process to catch violators. Subsequent violations would carry fines of $5,000 per pump, per violation.

Temperature compensation at the retail pump is the best way to ensure consumers get the amount of energy they are paying for, according to a letter of support to McCaskill submitted by a coalition of consumer advocates including OOIDA, Public Citizen, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, U.S. Public Interest Research Groups and the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights.

“This bill is a win-win for consumers and the industry,” the authors of the letter stated.

Fuel should be bought and sold based on a 60-degree standard, they said, to avoid the effects of temperature, which expands and contracts fuel.

The bill “starts the transition from the current system of a hot fuel premium to a temperature-adjusted retail system,” the authors of the support letter stated.

Provisions of the McCaskill amendment, known as the Future Accountability in Retail Fuel Act – or FAIR Fuel Act – state:

  • New fuel pumps and replacement pumps would have to be equipped with temperature compensation equipment to dispense fuel adhering to a 60-degree standard;
  • Retailers would have a maximum of five years after enactment of a final rule to equip all existing pumps with the temperature-compensating equipment;
  • State inspectors would check for compliance and notify the secretary of commerce of violations. After 180 days of non-compliance, the retailers would be subject to $5,000 fines per pump, per violation;
  • Federal grants of $1,000 per pump or $10,000 per retailer would be available to small retailers. No grants would available for integrated large oil companies; and
  • The rulemaking process would be required to begin 90 days after the date of enactment, with a final rule no later than one year after enactment.

 

Before HR6 can become law, the bill and its amendments must first survive the committee process. Both chambers must approve final legislation to send it to the president’s desk.

Click here to learn more about hot fuel.

– By David Tanner, staff writer
david_tanner@landlinemag.com

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