On behalf of truck drivers and motorists in seven states, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA) and Public Citizen have announced their support of a class action lawsuit against seventeen oil companies and gasoline and diesel retailers for overcharging for “hot fuel,” which occurs when the volume of fuel expands at the retail pumps at warmer temperatures, resulting in less energy content per gallon for the end user. The groups claim that “big oil” has overcharged more than $2-billion annually.
The suit, which charges the petroleum retailers with breach of sales contract and consumer fraud, seeks relief for consumers in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia. The suit calls for temperature control equipment to be installed on gasoline and diesel pumps.
The 17 companies named in the suit are Alon USA Inc., Ambest Inc., Chevron USA Inc., Circle K Corp., Citgo Petroleum Corp., ConocoPhilips LLC, Costco Wholesale Corp., Flying J Inc., Petro Stopping Centers LP, Pilot Travel Centers LLC, 7-Eleven Inc., Shell Oil Products Co., Tesoro Refining and Marketing Co., The Kroger Co., TravelCenters of America Inc., Valero Marketing and Supply Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
OOIDA and Public Citizen noted that bulk fuel purchasers have temperature-adjusted prices. Retailers in Canada, where temperatures are colder, voluntarily adjust prices for temperature, Public Citizen and OOIDA added.
“Fuel is adjusted for temperature all along the distribution line except at the end point, which is delivered to individual consumers,” stated Public Citizen. “With U.S. retail pumps, motorists never know how much energy they receive from a gallon of motor fuel.”
“We feel confident that buying a uniform amount of energy every time we buy fuel…will resonate with the public,” said John Siebert, project manager of the OOIDA Foundation.
Coincidently, the hot fuel issue has put the trucking and the public advocacy groups on the same page once again. On December 4, OOIDA and Public Citizen each argued their case against FMCSA’s 2005 hours-of-service rules before the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.
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