BLOOMINGTON – The Illinois Soybean Association today recognized Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s continued efforts to promote the biofuels industry in Illinois, including ethanol and biodiesel. At their annual meeting in Bloomington, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) honored the Governor as a friend to soybean farmers and to biodiesel, recognizing his accomplishments such as the biodiesel tax exemption he signed in 2003 that requires school districts and local governments across the state to use biodiesel blends of at least 2 percent for their government fleets. Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke accepted the award on the Governor’s behalf.
“Illinois is a national leader in the production and use of cleaner-burning fuels like biodiesel made from soybean oil. Biodiesel is good for Illinois’ environment and farmers. By helping the industry grow, we’re cleaning up our environment, lowering our dependence on foreign oil and supporting our farmers by producing home grown fuels,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
“Governor Blagojevich’s support has been critical in our work to make biodiesel more widely available,” said Steve Scates, ISA Chairman. “In addition to improving our air quality, this clean-burning fuel offers soybean growers an important new market for our crop.”
Illinois is the largest market for biodiesel in America. According to the Department of Revenue, sales of B11, fuel that is 11% biodiesel, in Illinois jumped from 635,000 gallons in June 2004 to 18 million gallons in June 2005. The 17.3 million gallon increase in sales within that year can be attributed to the complete state sales tax exemption Gov. Blagojevich signed into law.
“Since the day he took office, Governor Blagojevich has made his commitment to renewable fuels clear, and his actions over the last three years back up that commitment,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “I am proud to accept this award from the Illinois Soybean Association on behalf of the Governor and will continue to work with him to strengthen the industry and support our farmers.”
Other efforts Governor Blagojevich has supported to expand the use of biofuels in Illinois include:
- Signing legislation in 2003 to extend the sales tax exemption on ethanol and create a new tax credit for biodiesel fuels;
- Establishing the Illinois Renewable Fuels Development Program to provide up to $15 million a year in grants for financial assistance for plants in Illinois that have a production capacity of 30 million gallons of renewable fuels per year;
- Announcing more than $1.5 million in Opportunity Returns funding for the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to support the center’s role in technological innovation to continue to reduce the costs of ethanol production;
- Providing $4.8 million to the Lincolnland Agri-Energy Ethanol plant in Robinson, to help the plant succeed in closing on private financing for the project. The plant is now producing more than 40 million gallons of ethanol per year.