SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R Blagojevich today praised the Illinois General Assembly for approving legislation to help boost the use and sale of biodiesel fuel, much of which is made from Illinois soybeans. The Illinois House last night unanimously approved Senate Bill 769, after unanimously passing the Illinois Senate in early April. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) and Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville), changes the Alternate Fuels Act to make biodiesel fuel blends of 20 percent or higher eligible for the Illinois EPA’s Alternate Fuels Rebate Program and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Alternate Fuels Infrastructure Grant Program.
“I want to thank the General Assembly for expanding our efforts to increase the use of biodiesel, which is good for our air and good for our agriculture industry, and for energy independence. I look forward to signing this important legislation,” said Governor Blagojevich.
Early in his administration, the Governor signed legislation to eliminate the state sales tax on E-85 fuel, which made it noticeably less expensive than regular unleaded gasoline. He also signed an Executive Order requiring increased use of both ethanol and biodiesel by state employees.
Previously, blends of only 80 percent or higher biodiesel were eligible for IEPA rebates, to reflect the additional costs of more environmentally-friendly fuels or the expense of converting traditional diesel engines to use biodiesel, and for DCEO grants to help build additional fueling facilities. The rebates and grants are financed by an existing $20 user fee per vehicle on fleets of 10 or more vehicles within the Chicago metro area, raising about $1.5 million per year.
“This is another important incentive to increase the use of biodiesel fuels,” said Illinois EPA Director Renee Cipriano, who also noted the Governor’s Clean School Bus Program has provided grants to many districts around the state for switching diesel school buses to biodiesel fuel. In addition, Director Cipriano represented the Governor on Earth Day, April 22, to welcome the first corporate Adopt-A-Bus sponsor of the program: Cook-Illinois Co. will use a 20 percent biodiesel blend in its more than 1,400 school buses in the Chicago metro area.
The legislation had a broad cross-section of support, ranging from the Illinois Soybean Association to local governments and transit agencies, universities, corporations, and environmental organizations.