Big Oil’s Dirty Little Secret: Why Your Gasoline Isn’t Going As Far As It Should

It’s no secret that consumers continue to get ripped off by the major oil companies. But a new investigative report from NBC news reveals another way the richest corporations on Earth have exploited consumers for their own profitable gain.

The big oil companies – and the industry groups that represent them – have worked tirelessly to conceal what, until now, has been a virtually unknown truth: The hotter gasoline is when it is pumped, the lower the vehicle’s mileage per gallon will be.

According to the NBC report, Big Oil collected an extra $1.5 billion from U.S. consumers as a result of failing to address the issue. Not to mention, gasoline prices tend to increase in the hotter summer months, intensifying the cost burden on consumers.

The technology to prevent the problem already exists: “smart” pumps that adjust the price of gasoline according to the temperature. In fact, these smart pumps are already deployed in 90% of gas stations in Canada.

If Canada – which has one of the coldest climates of any nation – recognizes the need to install the new pumps, then why hasn’t it been done in the U.S., where summers in Southern states are downright sweltering? 

Because oil-industry lobbyists have fought long and hard to make sure it doesn’t happen. Several lawsuits against the oil companies are ongoing in some of the warmer states, but the cases are still pending.

Although the NBC report highlights the issue from a consumer-protection standpoint, it fails to mention the wider environmental impact of their negligence. Fewer miles per gallon, of course, mean not only more money, but more harmful emissions.

Installing smart pumps might be a higher-cost option over the short term, but it would pay dividends over the long term not only to consumers, but to the environment.

But, of course, Big Oil isn’t too concerned about that. 

The good news is that there is something you can do. Fill up your tank in the morning, at night, or on colder days to avoid handing out extra dollars to fund dirty oil. Or, better yet, forget the gas altogether, and bike, walk, or – if you have the cash to spend – buy an electric vehicle.



Flip-Flop Incumbent Loves Polar Bears, Too

Photo courtesy of International Rivers

Though he is often derided by Democrats for his party-confusion and support of former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) has taken a bold step to challenge Republicans and other supporters of arctic oil and gas exploration and drilling.

A bill introduced yesterday by Lieberman proposes to designate 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as Wilderness for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Under the designation, human activities in the ANWR would be restricted to non-motorized recreation, scientific research and other non-invasive activities, according to a press statement from Lieberman’s office.

That’s right: No gas, and no oil.

This proposed legislation follows a “critical habitat” designation by the Department of the Interior last November that protects polar bear habitat off the northern coast of Alaska. While some politicians undoubtedly remain steadfast in their support for domestic offshore oil drilling, it is clear that — to paraphrase comments made by President Obama in his State of the Union address — fossil-fueled energy represents a technology of the past.

Lieberman’s bill, of course, is still in its early stages, and will likely face harsh opposition from oil-bathing right-wingers. Lieberman, a fourth-term senator and longtime supporter of the ANWR, has announced he will retire next year. The incumbent hasn’t always been the most well-liked politician, but he can certainly leave his post in the U.S. government having contributed to a worthy cause.