Md. launches anti ‘hot fuel’ campaign

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The Frederick News-Post (Maryland)

So called “hot fuel” could mean consumers are being cheated at the pump. Hot fuel is the term for gasoline in storage tanks with a temperature of more than 60 degrees — at which point the liquid expands and you may not get the full measure you paid for.

In mid-July, Maryland Comptroller’s Office agents and weights and measures inspectors from the state’s Department of Agriculture will be teaming up to ensure that gas is being stored at regulated temperatures. “With gas prices continually rising, consumers deserve to know whether they are getting what they pay for before they hit the road,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Hot fuel could cost the consumer $1.5 billion over the summer, according to a congressional study. When the temperature reached 90 degrees, the average motorist may pay an extra $1.44 to fill up, according to The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology found fuel is dispensed on average at 5 degrees warmer than the federal standard. Agriculture Secretary Roger Richardson said there is presently no long-term inspection data anywhere in the country. Inspectors will monitor and record data on storage tanks around Maryland over the next financial year to verify fuel is being kept at a proper temperature.

After joint analysis of the collected data, the Comptroller’s Office will issue quarterly interim status reports. The first will cover July through Sept. 30.

“This partnership will not only help protect consumers here in Maryland, but add to the information available to inspectors nationwide,” Richardson said.

This is the latest in an overall effort by the Comptroller’s Office to combat high prices at the pumps. Franchot recently announced he was calling on oil companies to explain how and why they zone price — the practice of establishing different prices for retailers according to certain criteria kept secret by oil companies.

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