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Proposed Bill Would Regulate Gas Quality In Ohio

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Local leaders are pushing for Ohio to adopt a fuel quality testing program. House Bill 499 would authorize county auditors to test for octane level as well as sediment and water in fuel.

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds is tired of getting calls from people whose engines have been ruined by bad gas.

"Bad gas is being sold in Ohio," Reynolds says. "I can't quantify how much is being sold because as county auditor I'm not allowed to test it. But if you allow me the authority to test for fuel quality, I will ensure that in Butler County fuel quality will improve."

The bi-partisan bill sponsored by Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) and George Lang (R-West Chester) has been introduced in the Ohio House but there's currently no timeline for action. Lang says he'd like to move it through by the end of the year but it's unclear if that will be possible.

Reynolds says Ohio, Alaska and Nebraska are the only three states without some kind of fuel quality testing program.

The program would be permissive, meaning auditors could choose to participate or not. The bill's sponsors estimate the testing equipment would cost around $10,000. Testing could be done at the same time Weights and Measures teams from an auditor's office are testing pumping equipment.

Smaller counties could choose to partner with larger neighboring counties to provide quality monitoring services. Reynolds says this already happens with quantity measuring. Lang says it would be up to the Department of Agriculture to determine if a quality assurance stamp similar to those currently found on gas pumps would be added.

The oil and gas industry has historically opposed similar measures in the past. Lang says he's been contacted by lobbyists for the industry about their concerns. He says he's willing to consider removing some existing "outdated" or "burdensome" restrictions to get industry support.

"When you go to fill up your car, you know that your gallon of gas is a gallon of gas," Kelly says. "But if you opt for premium, do you know if your gallon of premium gas actually is premium gas? No. That is what this seeks to address. Do you know that your gallon of regular gasoline is really a gallon of regular gasoline and doesn't have water in it? We have seen everywhere across the state from Hamilton to Ashtabula that this is a problem."

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.