New Law Makes it Difficult to Protect Drivers Against Bad Fuel: State Official

Drivers "have zero protection now when it comes to dirty fuel, contaminated fuel, or people shorting you at the pump"

A new Texas law is making it more difficult to protect drivers against bad fuel, says one top state official.

"(Drivers) have zero protection now when it comes to dirty fuel, contaminated fuel, or people shorting you at the pump," said Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller.

Texas House Bill 2174, which affected the regulation of motor fuel quality and metering devices, passed in September of last year.

Before the law, Miller said if the Texas Department of Agriculture got a complaint about gas, they could immediately send inspectors to check out the problem.

The inspectors could check the fuel on site at the gas station, and close the business if the gas wasn’t clean.

However, under the new law, that has changed.

Now if the Department of Agriculture gets a fuel complaint, Miller said, all they can do is give the gas station a “fuel sample kit.” From there, the station has 10 days to take a sample and send it off to a laboratory for testing.

“We don't even know where they take the sample from. We're not there… they could take the sample from a neighboring store if they want to," Miller said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law. He has not yet responded to a request for comment about the law.

The Texas Food & Fuel Association also made the bill a top priority. In a statement to NBC 5 on Tuesday they said the bill adds protection for consumers and requires gas stations to calibrate their pumps every two years and to cover the cost of those calibrations. Previously, the TDA was inspecting stations every four to eight years at taxpayer expense, the association said.

The Texas Food & Fuel Assocation added that the turn around time on fuel quality tests could be quicker if stations were allowed to use labs in Texas as opposed to one in Indiana.

Miller said he plans to appeal to the legislature and that anyone who disagreed with the law should contact their local elected officials.

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