New Stickers Are No Substitute for a Fair Gallon of Gasoline At a Fair Price, Says Group
Santa Monica, CA — Many Mobil and Exxon stations in California have begun posting small signs on each pump, calling it a “Motor Fuel Measurement Notice.” The stickers, warning that the energy content of a gallon of fuel varies with its temperature, acknowledge that consumers are being ripped off, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan FTCR said the stickers are a strategy to fend off “hot fuel” lawsuits and allow the ripoff to continue. However, the foundation noted that either a current class action lawsuit or federal legislation to require temperature compensation of retail fuel may force oil refiners fix the problem.
“ExxonMobil, America’s most profitable corporation, owes drivers more than a cheap sticker in tiny print,” said Judy Dugan, research director of FTCR and its OilWatchdog.org project. “The company has funds that it uses to help dealers with infrastucture, and which could be used to buy nozzles that adjust fuel volume for higher temperatures.”
Newly introduced legislation in the Senate, by Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missorui, would require gasoline and diesel to be sold adjusted for temperature, giving motorists a fair gallon’s worth of energy for their money. (See information on the legislation here.)
“Consumers and lawmakers are increasingly aware that there is a thumb on the scale when they buy gasoline, even though they have no fairer alternative for purchasing it,” said Dugan. “The Senate’s hot fuel bill is a warning oil companies, refiners and distributors of gasoline that they can either make gasoline sales honest themselves or be forced by the courts or government to do it.”
Gasoline, especially in the summer, expands as its temperature rises. But fuel is sold by volume at a benchmark of 60 degrees, so drivers are paying for “ghost gas,” the lost energy content of a gallon at any temperature above 60 degrees. At other parts of the supply chain, the gasoline is sold temperature-adjusted, meaning slightly more gasoline is provided at higher temperatures.
The year-round temperature of fuel at the pump in California averages 74.5 degrees, and higher in summer. The national average is 64.7 degrees, according to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. At $3.00 a gallon, and with fuel at 75 degrees, motorists may lose 50 cents or more per thankful to “ghost gas.” (Click here for more information and background on “hot fuel”.)
ExxonMobil said that it would put stickers on its pumps at stations in California and Arizona. A survey of six stations in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, however, found the stickers only at Exxon-owned and franchised stations, not at independently owned but branded Exxon and Mobil stations. (Click here for the original announcement.)
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is California’s leading nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. For more information, visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org and www.OilWatchdog.org.