When a consumer goes to the gas pump to fill up, they are assuming what they are paying for is gasoline. In Ohio, that's a big assumption. Because Ohio has no regulatory program to test and ensure the quality of gasoline, Ohioans are using blind luck at the pump.
Over five billion gallons of fuel are sold per year in Ohio, the third largest consumer state in the nation. Yet, Ohio is one of only three states, along with Alaska and Nebraska, without any regulatory authority to test fuel quality.
Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith first began advocating for fuel quality testing legislation in 2000, but he says there has never been more momentum than there is now, more than twenty years later. The issue has been thrust into the spotlight after consumers suffered significant engine damage from two recent incidents in Southwest Ohio.
In February 2019, motorists in Middletown suffered thousands of dollars in vehicle damage after unknowingly pumping water-tainted fuel into their tanks. Local vehicles were again sent to repair shops in January 2020 after four Dayton-area Speedway gas stations received unleaded gas tainted with diesel.
County auditors already have weights and measures inspectors who visit gas stations to test the quantity of fuel, but they do not have the authority to test the quality of that fuel. Since the same inspectors could draw samples to test for fuel quality, the cost of implementing a statewide fuel quality program would be minimal.
Auditor Keith supports legislation that would grant county auditors the authority to establish motor fuel quality testing programs in their counties. This would allow county auditors to ensure that the octane level is correct and check that fuel is not tainted by water or sediment.
Consumers have a right to know what they are putting in their vehicles. Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith wants to ensure that it is gasoline.