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Fill 'er up, but not at a premium price

What motorist doesn't want to buy the lowest-priced gasoline available? And what taxpayer doesn't want its government's vehicles filled with the least expensive fuel possible? Unfortunately, that's not always happening. No one needs to look furth...

What motorist doesn't want to buy the lowest-priced gasoline available?

And what taxpayer doesn't want its government's vehicles filled with the least expensive fuel possible? Unfortunately, that's not always happening. No one needs to look further than Duluth to see that.

As detailed in the News Tribune, mail trucks from Duluth's main post office on Michigan Street near 27th Avenue West are frequent customers of the neighboring Interstate Spur station. That's not a problem except that last week, E-85 fuel, which the trucks use, was selling for $2.699 per gallon -- at least 51 cents more than at the six other stations in Duluth, Hermantown and Cloquet where E-85 is available.

The post office has no choice but to fill up there, argued postal officials. The 2005 Federal Energy Act requires Duluth's postal trucks, because they operate on alternative fuels, to use alternative fuels whenever available -- and without straying from normal routes to get the fuel.

Beyond the potential for fiscal irresponsibility, such a restrictive rule raises questions: Don't at least some of Duluth's mail trucks follow routes that go past the stations where cheaper E-85 is available? Couldn't they fill up at those stations instead? And couldn't trucks with gas gauges pushing "E" be scheduled on routes that pass by the most affordable gasoline available, whether that's Interstate Spur or one of the other places?

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If the answers are "no," then the Federal Energy Act could stand a rewrite by a federal government with an eye on spending money the way responsible citizens do.

They could keep in mind whose money they're spending.

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