State requires biodiesel labels

By Melissa Silverberg

Illinois has taken further steps to educating consumers about better fuel choices by requiring gas stations to label all pumps containing fuel mixed with biodiesel. This law, recently passed by the state Legislature, will be put into effect July 1.

Biodiesel is a cleaner fuel replacement for ordinary petroleum gasoline, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. It is also nontoxic and biodegradable and increasingly being used instead of diesel fuel that powers trucks and other large vehicles.

Illinois is the leading consumer of biodiesel, said the Illinois Soybean Association.

The association worked with state legislators and gas companies to get the law passed, said Kayla Rassi, communications manager for the association.

“Consumers need to know what they are purchasing and have the right to choose,” Rassi said. “We think it’s a good thing to use biodiesel because it’s renewable.”

By labeling these pumps, customers will know that the fuel has biodiesel in it, know what they are buying and understand that they are doing something to help the environment, she added.

The bill was passed with little opposition, said Brad Ware, director of communications and member relations for the Illinois Petroleum Marketers.

There are currently lawmakers working on a similar federal law in Washington that will outline the same regulations for labeling biodiesel as the Illinois law, which will avoid any overlapping confusing, Ware said.

“The consumers buying the product really benefit the most,” he said.

Biodiesel blends are labeled according to what percentage of their makeup is biofuel, for example B11 is made up of 11 percent biofuel.

The cost for gas stations around the state to comply with the new law will be relatively low, Ware added, because they only will have to pay for the new sticker labels to put on the gas pumps.

The move to label gas pumps is only the first step in what Dave Sykuta, executive director of the Illinois Petroleum Council, called a work in progress to deal with the issue of fuels in this county. The Illinois Petroleum Council is a trade association that represents large oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell.

“It’s all about quality control, we want to make sure there is uniformity,” Sykuta said. He explained that there would be problems if some pumps were not labeled, but not all because it could be confusing to the consumer. The law, however, will require all pumped to be labeled and avoid this possible problem.

The issue was not highly controversial, but it was also not the last action that will be taken in the area of biofuels, Sykuta added.

“People have a lot going on in their lives, they don’t read the labels on the pump,” Sykuta said. “They just expect that if it’s in our station then it is going to work. That’s why it’s our job to make sure it’s all high quality.”