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Issa Challenged On “Hot Fuel” Rip-off | Oil Watchdog

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Issa Challenged On “Hot Fuel” Rip-off


Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Issa Challenged On “Hot Fuel” Rip-off

    September 18, 2007

    CONTACT: Judy Dugan, 310-392-0522, ext. 305, or cell: 213-280-0175, or Jamie Court, ext. 327, or cell: 310-874-9989

    Consumer Group Challenges Rep. Darrell Issa On "Hot Fuel" Ripoff of Motorists;

    Congressman Stands By Scientifically Inaccurate FTC "Opinion Letter," Despite Withdrawal and Apology

    Santa Monica, CA — OilWatchdog.org today challenged Rep. Darrell
    Issa of San Diego to debate the merits of fixing the "hot fuel" ripoff
    that costs U.S. motorists $2.3 billion a year and California drivers
    $450 million in lost fuel energy at the pump. The challenge follows
    Issa’s solicitation of a letter from the Federal Trade Commission
    intended to support his opposition to fixing the ripoff. (See OilWatchdog’s letter to Issa here.)

    The opinion signed by FTC chair and former Chevron attorney
    Deborah Majoras, was released by Issa Sept. 5. Its publication jolted
    national weights and measures experts because it underestimated the
    effect of heat on fuel expansion by more than 90%, and used the faulty
    result to conclude that consumers are not harmed by such sales. Rep.
    Dennis Kucinich, chair of the House Domestic Policy subcommittee on
    which Issa also sits, wrote the FTC to point out its false conclusions.
    Majoras apologized and withdrew her original opinion Sept. 11, yet Issa
    continues to publish his approving statement on his web site, under the
    headline "FTC Rebuffs Democrats Over ‘Hot Fuels’ Fraud Allegations."

    Read the original FTC Opinion.

    Read the Kucinich letter.

    Read the FTC withdrawal/apology letter.

    In the challenge sent to Issa today, OilWatchdog and its sponsor, The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said:

    "You were present at both House Domestic Policy subcommittee
    hearings on ‘hot fuel’ this year and had access to its expert staff
    reports. Yet neither you nor your staff spotted the gross calculation
    errors in the FTC letter, written at your request. You released the
    letter as evidence that there is no reason for retail temperature
    compensation of gasoline and diesel fuels.

    "The FTC’s analysis understated the effect on retail
    consumers from "hot fuel" by more than 90%, according to the National
    Institute on Standards and Technology. Consumers lose about a dollar’s
    worth of energy, or one-third of a gallon, on a 20-gallon fill-up when
    gasoline is at 85 degrees.

    Your statement supporting the FTC letter is still
    posted on your web site, with only an opaque asterisked addendum saying
    the ‘coefficient of expansion’ in the FTC letter was in error. Your
    statement still links to the original, erroneous letter even though FTC
    chairwoman Deborah Majoras said on Sept. 11, ‘[T]he data we relied on
    was wrong. I highly regret the error, and I have directed my staff to
    conduct a thorough reassessment of the issue based on accurate data.’
    Your site does not link to this second FTC letter."

    Judy Dugan and Jamie Court, founders of OilWatchdog.org, said
    they want Rep. Issa to debate one or both of them at the time and place
    of Issa’s choice.

    "Rep. Issa has taken at least $63,000 in campaign
    contributions from the oil and gas industry just through 2006," said
    Dugan. "His unscientific opposition to even acknowledging the
    unfairness of ‘hot fuel’ sales is a slap to his constituents in sunny
    San Diego, and a boon to the refiners and marketers of gasoline and
    diesel. Voters deserve to hear him explain this contradiction."

    OilWatchdog and FTCR have also filed a Federal Freedom of
    Information Act request for the Federal Trade Commission’s sources in
    reaching its erroneous opinion.

    The federal "standard temperature" for fuel is 60 degrees
    Fahrenheit. Like all liquids, gasoline expands at higher temperatures
    and loses energy. At the refinery and wholesale level, sales of
    gasoline and diesel are usually adjusted for temperature, with the
    buyer receiving an extra measure of fuel to make up for the expansion.
    At retail, however, motorists receive a gallon that is always the same
    volume, with no compensation for temperature. U.S. Manufacturers
    already produce retail gas pump equipment that compensates for
    temperature expansion and contraction, which is a common practice in
    Canada. (Canada’s cooler temperatures mean the sellers benefit from
    temperature compensation).

    "Rep. Issa needs to either go back to science class or defend
    his position in public," said Dugan. "We’re offering him the
    opportunity to make his position clear, whether it’s science-based or

    – 30 –

    The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a leading
    nonprofit and nonpartisan consumer watchdog group. For more information
    visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org and www.OilWatchdog.org.

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