Hamilton council endorses state testing of fuel quality

The City Council has endorsed state legislation that would help county auditors inspect the quality of gasoline — making sure it doesn’t have water, sediment or other engine-harming materials in it — while they check gas pumps to make sure they are dispensing accurate amounts of gasoline. They also could check to make sure the octane levels are as high as advertised.

State Rep. George Lang (R-West Chester Twp.) is the sponsor of House Bill 499, along with Brigid Kelly (D-Norwood), so the bill has bipartisan support, said David Brown, a spokesperson for Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds.

Lots of legislation has been slowed at the Statehouse because of the coronavirus pandemic, Brown noted.

“We definitely believe in this legislation,” Brown said. “We’ve been pushing for it. We pretty much wrote it. We think it’s just common-sense consumer protection, so we continue to promote it in any fashion we can.”

The bill is in the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

Currently, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has the ability to test but doesn’t do so because it never received the funding necessary to do so, Brown said.

Mayor Pat Moeller and other members of council have been advocates of such legislation for several years, and approved a resolution in favor of it 6-0, with council member Michael Ryan absent.

“The word ‘essential’ comes up a lot these days,” Moeller said. “Of course, quality gas is essential.”

Moeller noted that for smaller counties that would have trouble affording the testing equipment, there is a possibility they could share equipment with other counties.

Brown said 47 states have implemented fuel-testing programs. The other two without it are Alaska and Nebraska.

Summit County, the home to Akron, has been checking fuel quality since 2005, and is able to do so because it is a home-rule county.

Reynolds’ staff believes the costs to its department would be minimal, because they already pour out fuel to test for quantity. At the same time they do that, they could test for sediment, water and octane, Brown has said. The equipment would cost about $12,000.

In February of 2019, Andrew Carpenter, a self-employed carpenter from Springboro, was one driver who stopped to fuel his truck at the Madison Food Mart Shell station at 2289 Middletown Eaton Road.

“When I left, halfway down the road I hadn’t even gone a half of a mile, my truck started spittin’ and sputtering, it was about to die,” he said. “I had to floor my truck all the way, and it’s a fuel injected ‘06 Chevy, and I’ve never had no problems with it.”

Staff Writer Denise G. Callahan contributed

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