A national coalition of associations representing independent petroleum marketers has formed the Partnership for Uniform Marketing Practices (PUMP). The organization's focus is to ensure fair competition,
cost-effective distribution and equitable treatment of consumers in addressing the issue of temperature variation in the sale of gasoline and diesel fuels.
"Our coalition believes that consumers must be provided with reliable and accurate practices in the delivery of fuel at the pump," said Lisa Mullings, president and CEO of NATSO, an association representing truckstops and travel plazas and a founding member of PUMP. "That's why we have joined together in support of a complete and thorough examination of fuel dispensing practices to fully understand and evaluate the impact of temperature variation on consumers."
Retailers have banded together to fight recent allegations that consumers are receiving less than they pay for as the result of retailers selling gasoline at temperatures higher than standard 60-degree reference temperature. Based on unverifiable data provided by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to the Kansas City Star, proponents are demanding that retail gas marketers install expensive automatic temperature compensation (ATC) devices, claiming significant, but unsubstantiated, savings for consumers.
PUMP members counter that there is currently no accurate or statistically reliable data to suggest that consumers are being adversely impacted under the existing system. Coalition members maintain that any variation from the 60-degree standard reference temperature balances out for consumers based on year-round, seasonal averages. The coalition further emphasizes that proponents of ATC ignore the fact that the costs associated with enforcing and implementing the proposed regulatory changes would most likely be borne by the very consumers they claim to be protecting.
"There's simply too much at stake for consumers, retailers, and state and local governments to rush to an ill-informed judgment on this issue," said Jay McKeeman, vice president of Government Relations and Communications for the California Independent Oil Marketers Association (CIOMA) and a founding member of the PUMP coalition. "Before costly solutions are forced on consumers and retailers, it's imperative to confirm whether the problem is real, how widespread it is, and whether the costs of implementing any solution will be offset by a real and measurable economic benefit, if any, to the consumer."
The coalition is asking government officials and regulators to conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit study of the issue to determine the real costs to consumers compared to the benefits from ATC before any decision is made relative to the use of temperature compensation devices.