State to shutter costly fuel testing lab

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Describing it as a waste of taxpayer dollars, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said he will shutter a $3 million gasoline quality testing lab that was opened under his predecessor Richie Farmer.

The closing is yet another mark against the record of Farmer, a onetime college basketball star. Last month, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission charged Farmer with 42 ethics violations for misusing state funds and state employees during his time as commissioner. Farmer's lawyer denies all charges.

Comer said Wednesday that the lab "hemorrhaged" tax dollars while failing to handle the 500 random tests of gas station fuel Kentucky conducts each year. The closure will eventually save taxpayers about $600,000 a year, Comer said. The state is already contracting with a private company in Texas to conduct the tests.

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