'Hot Fuel' hearings heating up in the U.S.
WASHINGTON -- A U.S. sub-committee investigating allegations that oil companies are squeezing extra dollars from consumers via "hot fuel" commended the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association's (OOIDA) work in exposing the issue.
At a recent hearing called by the U.S. House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Oversight and Reform, OOIDA Project Leader John Siebert said "hot fuel" has cost vehicle operators an additional $2.5 billion.
The term "hot fuel" refers to expanded diesel fuel or gasoline that is sold at retail pumps at temperatures higher than the century-old government standard of 60 degrees. The warmer the fuel, the less measurable energy (Btu) and fewer miles to the gallons a vehicle will receive. For example, if a tractor-trailer averages six miles per gallon, 200 gallons of 98-degree fuel is going to take that truck 36 fewer miles than 60-degree fuel.
Subcommittee Chairman and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Dennis Kucinich, acknowledged that Americans and those filling up in the U.S. are paying a "hot fuel premium" of $1 to $3 per tank for fuel they never receive in some parts of the country.
Siebert added that owner-operators can spend more than $55,500 on diesel fuel a year, so even a loss of pennies per gallon is significant for truckers.
OOIDA and other critics say there are devices -- automatic temperature-compensation kits -- that can be installed on retail pumps to make up the difference in price. However, oil companies have refused to outfit pumps with the technology.
OOIDA has been challenging the U.S. Department of Weights and Measures to require fuel retailers in all 50 states to install the devices as a solution to the hot fuel problem. The Association is also planning to launch a public education campaign on the topic, including a new Web site.
The devices are standard in much of Canada -- albeit for different reasons. Here, the government gave oil firms permission to install output volume adjustment devices to offset profits lost to colder temperatures.
According to OOIDA's official publication, Land Line, Martin Gafinowitz, CEO of pump-manufacturer Gilbarco Veeder-Root, also attended the hearing and gave testimony.
Kucinich asked Gafinowitz if his company has ever been pressured by oil firms to not install the temperature control devices. Gafinowitz denied that was the case, citing market factors for the absence of the technology, but did admit the oil and retail industry is "not in favor of installing this equipment."
Exxon Mobil Corp. and Shell Oil Co. were invited by Kucinich to testify, but declined to participate.
Other panelists at the hearing included representatives from the National Conference of Weights and Measures and the National Association of Convenience Stores and Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.