Illinois biodiesel bill weakened, but gets House OK

| Friday, March 18, 2005

Illinois lawmakers working on a proposal to promote the use of biodiesel have watered down their plan – but the less stringent version was quickly approved by the lower chamber of the General Assembly.

The bill, HB112, now requires that any government-owned diesel vehicle in the state must use a 2 percent biodiesel blend. That’s down from the 50 percent blend required by the bill’s original wording.

But the legislators went a few steps further.

Under the version that passed the state House March 17 – on a 133-0 vote – the vehicles has to use the 2 percent blend only under certain conditions. For example, use of the blend is required only if the state vehicle is fueling at a bulk, central fueling facility, and if it is fueling at a location where the blend is available.

The bill allows governments to use a fuel with a higher percentage of biodiesel, but says it can use a higher percentage if “the engine is designed or retrofitted to operate on a higher percentage of biodiesel.”

Experts have told Land Line that fuel meeting the federal standard for biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine without modification.

The original version of the bill also would have hiked the fuel tax in Illinois by one-tenth of once cent, and used the money to reimburse those entities using the biodiesel one penny for each gallon consumed. That provision was dropped from the version of the bill that passed the House.

The measure, which if passed would be effective Jan. 1, 2006, would apply to “all diesel powered vehicles owned or operated by the state, any county or unit of local government, any school district, any community college or public college or university, or any mass transit agency.”

HB112 will now move to the state Senate.

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