Standards committee to discuss fuel-temperature equipment

| 8/22/2007

The agenda is set for a public meeting of National Conference on Weights and Measures volunteers that could have an impact on the way fuel is sold to consumers in the future.

If temperature-compensation equipment becomes a reality at the retail pump, consumers would no longer have to worry about “hot fuel” or the effects of temperature on the product they purchase.

The Automatic Temperature Compensation Steering Committee, appointed by the National Conference on Weights and Measures to answer questions posed at a recent national conference about temperature compensation, will conduct its first meeting Monday, Aug. 27, at the Sofitel Chicago O’Hare hotel. The agenda concludes at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

Joining the roster for the meeting will be John Siebert, project leader for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Foundation. He spoke at the national conference in July to promote fair measurement of fuel through temperature compensation.

“Our purpose for being there is to be the conscience,” Siebert told Land Line Magazine.

The assertion that a number of consumers, highways user groups – including OOIDA – and some members of Congress have is that fuel companies selling retail fuel at temperatures higher than 60 degrees are netting extra profits because the fuel has expanded. In other words, consumers routinely pay for fuel energy they do not receive when it’s hot.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH, chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic Policy of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said during a recent subcommittee hearing that hot fuel will cost consumers $1.5 billion this summer alone.

The National Conference on Weights and Measures narrowly missed approving standardized language in July for states to use on a voluntary basis to implement temperature compensation at retail. Although the vote was 23-16 in favor of temperature compensation, the conference needed 27 votes in favor to reach a clear majority.

The upcoming steering committee meeting will include members of the American Petroleum Institute, fuel marketers from several states, weights and measures officials from various jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada, and representatives from Natso, state agricultural agencies, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and several law firms.

Agenda items – many of which are technical in nature as advised by the national conference – include the establishment of standardized product densities for gasoline and diesel, references to a standardized temperature of 60 degrees, establishment of temperature probes, labeling, signage, equipment, receipts, tax data and implementation.

Findings will be reported to regional weights and measures groups and to the Laws & Regulations Committee and the Specifications and Tolerance Committee of the National Conference on Weights and Measures.

“I would like to see them come up with answers to these questions,” Siebert said. “Then, these committees would be able to write up a proposal that has a good chance of passing next year.”

Siebert says temperature compensation is a tough sell since there are a number of fuel marketers involved in weights and measures happenings.

Marketing groups oppose temperature regulations at the retail pump. One of their arguments is the supposed high cost for implementation that they say will be passed down to consumers in the form of higher fuel prices.

Some lawmakers are taking action to see temperature compensation come to light on a wide scale.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, introduced S1997 on Aug. 3 calling for installation of temperature-compensation equipment on all retail fuel pumps within five years. Click here to read the bill.

– By David Tanner, staff writer