Press Releases

Fuel lab shutdown complete, equipment to be auctioned;
Cox to re-enter retirement


For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 16, 2013
For more information contact:
Holly Harris VonLuehrte
(502) 573-0450

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Agriculture Commissioner James Comer today announced that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will continue to use a private laboratory for its motor fuel quality testing services and has requested a date to auction off fuel testing equipment from the department’s Frankfort lab. The $3.1 million worth of equipment purchased by the previous administration will be auctioned by the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet’s surplus property division. 


“This was the most cost-effective path for the taxpayers,” Comer said. “The shutdown of the fuel lab was a laborious and complex task, and I am grateful to the leadership of Larry Cox in guiding this project to conclusion.”


The Fuel Lab Task Force appointed by Comer recommended the shutdown of the lab. Cox, executive director of the KDA’s Office of Consumer and Environmental Protection, negotiated with Core Laboratories of Deer Park, Texas, to perform fuel quality testing for the department. With the completion of this project, Cox, who was appointed deputy commissioner last month, will re-enter retirement to his hay farming operation in Hart County effective June 15. Benson Bell, currently a division director under Cox, will take over as executive director of Consumer and Environmental Protection. Comer has no immediate plans to fill the deputy commissioner position.


“Larry came on board to help guide us through a difficult period,” Comer said. “His experience was an invaluable asset to this office. We knew we only had him temporarily, but he achieved every goal I set out for him, and he leaves this office in great condition.”


The fuel lab was funded during the previous administration, and taxpayers were led to believe it would generate revenue. A 2012 audit requested by Comer revealed the lab was hemorrhaging $900,000 per year. Core Laboratories is providing the service at a cost of $330,000 per year. With additional savings in personnel and benefits, the department’s actions will save taxpayers more than $600,000 per year.