Gov. Blagojevich signs key biodiesel bill for Illinois

By | October 01, 2005
Between now and next summer, biodiesel use in Illinois should increase noticeably. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed House Bill 112 (HB0112), which requires all state, county and local governments, universities, community colleges and public school districts, and mass transit agencies operating diesel vehicles throughout the state to use a minimum of 2 percent biodiesel when bulk refueling centers are used. The directive goes into effect July 1, 2006.

"We are pleased with what's happened so far," said Hans Detweiler, deputy director for the Bureau of Energy and Recycling in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development (IDCED). "Last year, Gov. Blagojevich signed an Executive Order requiring all state-owned vehicles to use B2, and we found that there really were no higher costs associated with extending that to include what [HB0112] covers." However, the lack of additional costs wasn't the determining factor in Blagojevich signing the bill.

Three strong reasons backed the governor's solid acceptance of HB0112-keeping the kids healthy, supporting Illinois agriculture and contravening dire dependence on foreign oil.

Blagojevich's main focus in signing HB0112 was curbing public school bus emissions, Detweiler said. Biodiesel's capacity, even with low blends, to reduce carcinogenic particulate matter emissions from school bus tailpipes clinched his support. "The governor will do anything he can to create a healthier environment for the kids," Detweiler said.

The second driver in signing the bill was to show support for Illinois agricultural products.
Thirdly, the governor wanted to make headway in moving Illinois away from dependence on foreign oil. "The governor believes this legislation will help prime the pump on renewable fuels," Detweiler said.

Most recent data suggest approximately 4.5 billion gallons of diesel fuel are consumed in Illinois annually, according to the IDCED. The state's transit authorities alone would use approximately 500,000 gallons of biodiesel per year under HB0112's B2 mandate.
Looking at Illinois' fuel infrastructure, Detweiler doesn't foresee any impediments to implementing the B2 directive. "The agency did a survey on [Illinois fuel] blending systems, and a number of them already produce biodiesel and are looking at expanding that," he said.

Forecasting ahead, Detweiler had some encouraging words on future Illinois biodiesel initiatives. "Right now, we're in dialogue with the investment community," he said. "The market is there, and a number of entities want to develop. But, to the lending community, this is a relatively new bird."
-Staff Report
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