New staffer helps NMDA make sure you get what you pay for at fuel pump

Petroleum inspector checks pumps, plus gas, diesel quality at filling stations

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – There’s a new face in southern New Mexico making sure you get what you pay for when you fill up your fuel tank.

You might have seen him at a gas station around town, pulling all sorts of unfamiliar-looking equipment from a white flatbed trailer hitched to a white pickup with New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) stickers on the doors.  You might have asked yourself: What in the world is he doing?

Lorenzo Mireles joined the Petroleum Standards program at NMDA earlier this year as a petroleum inspector.  The Petroleum Standards staff enforce New Mexico’s Petroleum Products Standards Act, which means that Mireles spends the bulk of his workday checking gasoline and diesel pumps, as well as the products they dispense, at filling stations in Doña Ana and Sierra counties. 

“The work Lorenzo and NMDA’s other petroleum inspectors across the state do, helps ensure fairness in our marketplace,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said.  “Regulating commercial fuel pumps and the gas and diesel they dispense creates a level playing field for both you when you fill up, as well as for the gas station.”

The Petroleum Standards program is responsible for inspecting all commercial fuel pumps in the state and ensuring the quality of gasoline and diesel (as well as kerosene, brake fluid, antifreeze, and lubricating oil).  The staff check to make sure that when the pump says it’s put a gallon of fuel into your tank, it’s pumped a true gallon.  They check to make sure that when the sticker tells you the gasoline you’re about to pump is 87 octane, that it proves at 87 octane and not a different quality.  The fuel samples that Mireles routinely collects are tested for quality at NMDA’s Petroleum Standards Laboratory (PSL), located at NMDA’s main office in Las Cruces.  

Fuel pumps found to be dispensing an inaccurate quality and/or quantity of fuel are placed out of service – you’ll see them covered with a bright yellow “out of order” plastic bag — until the issue is resolved by the station.  If you suspect the pump you filled up at is inaccurate in terms of quantity or quality, you may call NMDA’s Standards and Consumer Services division at 575-646-1616.

Another part of Mireles’ job is to inspect large scales, like the ones used to weigh livestock before they are sold – a measure to ensure fairness for livestock buyers and sellers alike.

Mireles earned his bachelor’s degree in biology, minoring in biochemistry, at NMSU.  He and his wife Hannah live in Las Cruces, where both grew up.  Mireles previously worked with at-risk youth via Youth Radio, a project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.