After a visit to the gas station to fill up his truck with gas, my 17-year-old son had a very simple question for me: “Mom, since your name is on the gas pumps, why can’t you make the prices go down?”
Logical question, it seems — especially when Oklahomans look at the gas pump and see the white inspection sticker listing the Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners in their official capacity. But as I told my son, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission does not control the price of gasoline at the pump. Our responsibility is to ensure that when you buy a gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel, you actually get a gallon. We also work to protect our citizens, our land and our water from leaky storage tanks under the ground that hold these fuels.
The OCC has inspectors that visit more than 34,000 pumps at more than 4,900 facilities all across Oklahoma. We inspect each pump at least twice a year. With 21 inspectors, it is a huge job, but one that protects Oklahomans every time they drive their car or truck.
At one inspection, our inspectors make a comprehensive review. They look at everything from leak detection to gasoline octane levels. At the second yearly inspection, we focus on calibration and fuel quality, by measuring octane numbers and other critical quality factors. Why is this important? The OCC is charged with making every effort to guarantee consumers get what they are paying for — a gallon of gasoline.
A fuel pump must meet calibration standards, which require the amount purchased be within 6 cubic inches — or about 6 tablespoons — for every 5 gallons pumped. The fuel sold also must meet standards for octane levels and ethanol levels. All three of these checks ensure that a gasoline purchaser is getting what they pay for.
If there is a problem, consumers can register a complaint with the OCC and we will send an inspector out to investigate. Our inspectors act on these complaints within 24 hours. If there is a problem, we work to fix it.
The OCC also works to make sure that the underground tanks at these 4,900 locations are safe for our environment and our ground water. Important to cities, towns and counties is the knowledge that these tanks have the required safety devices in place to keep land and water clean. If there is a leak or spill, we work to remove the pollution and to remove or fix the leaky tank.
Bottom line — the Oklahoma Corporation Commission cannot regulate the price of a gallon of gasoline and diesel at the pumps, but we can help ensure that our consumers are getting what they purchase, and that we keep our land and water clean.
PATRICE DOUGLAS, chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner and a former Edmond mayor, is an Edmond resident.