From: Laura Girresch, Belleville News-Democrat
Published August 29, 2005 12:00 AM

Law Requires Use of Biodiesel in Illinois State Vehicles

A new Illinois law will require state and local governments, school districts, universities, community colleges and mass transit agencies to fuel their diesel vehicles with 2 percent biodiesel.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently signed the measure into law to boost biodiesel usage in Illinois. The state is already the national leader in biodiesel -- a renewable fuel typically made from soybeans.

"This gets Illinois on the road toward greater energy independence and less reliance on imported oil," Blagojevich said.

This is the second bill Blagojevich has signed this summer to promote biodiesel. Earlier this summer, the governor approved a law that gives rebates to drivers who use at least a 20 percent biodiesel blend.

The new law affecting schools and governments will take effect July 1.

Hans Detweiler, deputy director of energy and recycling for the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said that for a city like Belleville, a lot of the expected benefit of this new law has to do with school buses and the toxins they release around children -- biodiesel is cleaner for the kids to breathe.

"B-2 is a cleaner-burning fuel, and a lot of school buses are not the newest vehicles -- it's always annoying when you've got diesel vehicles belching out all kinds of stuff around the kids," he said.

The law also benefits the rural communities in the metro-east because of the growth of soybean use that will go with it, Detweiler said.

"It's an economic development tool for the state as well," he said.

B-2, the biodiesel blend mandated by the new law, is the blend with the least amount of biodiesel mixed in.

"The most environmental benefit comes from B-20 or higher, but B-2 also has other benefits like protecting engine life through preventing premature engine wear and tear -- biodiesel keeps the engine well-lubricated, " said Jenna Higgins spokesman for the National Biodiesel Board.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is responsible for implementing the law. Matt Vanover, spokesman for the department, said it isn't known yet whether there would be a penalty for violation.

"At this point, we haven't adopted the rules for implementing it, and there are a number of questions out there -- availability would be one of them that would need to be answered," he said.

"Biodiesel is readily available in Southern Illinois," said Matt Schrimpf, operations manager of Piasa Motor Fuels and HWRT Oil Co.

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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