Weights and measures conference to fuel temperature inquiry

The National Conference on Weights and Measures fell four votes short of formally adopting a model law to compensate for temperature impacts on gasoline and other motor fuels at the retail level.

Nick Snow
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC, July 16 -- The National Conference on Weights and Measures fell four votes short of formally adopting a model law to compensate for temperature impacts on gasoline and other motor fuels at the retail level.

The proposal was approved by 23 of the 39 states voting at the group's annual meeting in Snowbird, Utah. Officials from the remaining 16 voiced support but said further development of the issue is needed for successful implementation. Approval by 27 states is needed to pass a proposal at the meeting.

"Automatic temperature compensation is our top priority this year," said new NCWM Chairwoman Judith L. Cardin, who is the weights and measurements director in Wisconsin's agriculture, trade, and consumer protection department. She noted that a steering committee of national experts is working to move the issue forward, with a mandate to help technical committees answer questions raised during open hearings at the annual meeting.

Some of the questions concerned nationwide densities for motor fuel, state fuel taxes, mandatory regulation, and implementation, Cardin said.

US Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Domestic Policy Subcommittee, called NCWM's vote "a defeat for consumers and for the economy, which requires accurate measurements for its proper functioning."

Motor fuel volumes expand at higher temperatures. The US petroleum industry already compensates at the wholesale level to reach a standard gallon volume of 231 cu in. at an ambient temperature of 60 degrees, but NCWM for years has debated whether similar adjustments are necessary at retail outlets.

Kucinich, who examined the issue at a June 8 hearing of his subcommittee, said he would hold another on July 25. One question to be discussed is why Canada has a regulation requiring retailers to compensate for motor fuel temperatures while the US does not, he indicated.

Contact Nick Snow at nsnow@cox.net.

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