U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill this week pushed leaders of the
Senate Commerce Committee to hold a hearing on a bill that would help
protect consumers at the gas pump.
McCaskill, in a letter to Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye and
Ranking Member Ted Stevens, requested that the Commerce Committee
examine the FAIR (Future Accountability In Retail) Fuel Act, which
would require the installation of
automatic temperature compensating equipment in all retail gas station
pumps to adjust the price of gas as it expands due to warmer
temperatures. Reports indicate that Americans currently spend $2.57
billion more than they should for gasoline and diesel fuel due to
gasoline expanding in warmer temperatures.
Missourians are being cheated at the gas pump, and it’ time
Congress put a stop to it, McCaskill said. With gas prices near $3 a
gallon, every penny counts, and Americans shouldn’t be paying more to
McCaskill’ legislation was inspired by the Kansas City Star’
three-part series on hot fuel last year, which uncovered that the
simple laws of physics were scamming consumers at the pump. Retailers
currently measure gas at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and consumers are
paying a price for gas based on that temperature. However, warmer
temperatures cause gas to expand and, as a result, consumers are
getting less gas in the summer and in warm climates. As a candidate for
the U.S. Senate, McCaskill pledged to work toward a solution to the hot
In addition to requiring all retail gas stations to install the
new temperature compensating technology within 6 years, the F.A.I.R.
Fuel Act would offer assistance for retailers to comply, and impose
penalties for those who fail to ensure consumers are receiving the gas
that they pay for.
The F.A.I.R. Fuel Act would:
– Require installation of automatic temperature compensating
equipment in all retail gasoline pumps within 6 years of the enactment
– Give the Federal Trade Commission, working in conjunction
with National Institute for Standards and Technology, authority to
implement the requirement with a final rule to be promulgated no later
than 1 year after the enactment of the legislation.
– Require state inspectors to determine if the equipment has
been installed and report to the Federal Trade Commission during their
– Give a reprieve with a follow-up inspection 180 days after
the violation is found to first time offenders. If on the second
inspection, retailers are still found to be in violation, they will be
fined $5000 for each pump out of compliance.
– Establish a grant fund for retailers, other than major
integrated oil companies, who want assistance to pay for the new
equipment. A retailer can receive $1000 per pump, but no more than
$10,000 per retailer.
The F.A.I.R. Fuel Act has received praise as common-sense
consumer protection legislation. Groups such as Public Citizen,
Owner-Operator Independent Drives Association (OOIDA), Consumers Union,
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), Consumer Federation
of America and U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (USPIRG) have
endorsed the legislation.