Monday, October 6, 2008

Hot fuel still in the hot seat

Hot fuel – it’s an issue that OOIDA first brought to the public’s attention years ago. It’s an issue the association and others have fought to fix – and one the oil companies have fought to ignore.

Here’s how hot fuel works. A standard gallon of diesel at 60 degrees contains 139,000 Btu, or British Thermal Units. Run the temperature of that fuel up to 90 or 95 degrees – something that’s not unheard of – and it could contain as many as 2,000 Btu less.

That means you could spend a thousand dollars more a year for fuel, and go fewer miles on each tank of fuel.

Fuel companies compensate each other for the difference. The only people who don’t get some compensation for the difference temperature makes are you, truckers or motorists.

Some time back, we found out the very same oil companies who started this mess have found a way they think they can avoid responsibility.

The ploy involves stickers placed on the pump. I’ve seen or heard of several different versions, but they all follow a similar theme: We sell gas measured by the gallon, not measured by how much energy it provides. We’re not responsible if that energy level per gallon falls below what you expect.

We first became aware of the stickers when they appeared on pumps in California. We’ve been told recently they’ve made it all the way to the East Coast.

It’s clearly an attempt to circumvent the real issue of hot fuel, a disclaimer that in essence says, “We’re informing you officially that we intend to cheat you, so that makes it all legal and OK.”

Well, I have a message for those folks: It’s not OK.

OOIDA is continuing to pursue this issue. Another group is continuing to pursue a lawsuit. Others are still pushing in state and federal weights and measures groups to have the rules for how fuel pumps work changed.

And we’ll keep all of you updated as the issue progresses. But as you know, with our government, really changing anything takes years.

The problem we face is that slow speed of change, and the incredible resources possessed by the folks who want to keep things the way they are.

The problem our opponents face is that we have a lot of patience, and a long memory. And we will not forget.