SPRINGFIELD – A new Illinois law requires state agencies to buy vehicles that can run on environment-friendly fuels.
"This bill will help further the progress we've made in recent years in building one of the largest green fleets in the nation," said a statement from Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who signed the measure on Friday. "By using biofuels to fuel our state cars and trucks, we're helping the environment and supporting our farmers."
The legislation requires all gasoline-powered cars and trucks bought with state funds after July 1 to be flexible-fuel vehicles, which can run on an 85 percent ethanol/15 percent gasoline blend, or fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles, which run partially on electricity. New diesel purchases must be able to run on 5 percent biodiesel fuel.
Although the bill does allow for a few exemptions as determined by the chief procurement officer, it goes further than an executive order Blagojevich signed in 2004, encouraging the state to buy flexible fuel vehicles "whenever possible."
According to the governor's office, more than 400 of the 700 passenger vehicles the state purchased in the last fiscal year were flexible fuel models. Sixteen percent of the state's 12,100-vehicle fleet can now run on biofuels, and state agencies are consuming more than 8,100 gallons of E-85 and more than 60,000 gallons of biodiesel each month.
The measure's chief sponsor, state Rep. Mike Boland, D-East Moline, said he expected it to "continue to spur markets for Illinois corn and soybean farmers" by increasing the demand for biofuels.
"We think it's a good idea, for obvious reasons," said Mark Lambert, communications director for the Illinois Corn Growers Association. "We are in a state that has the resources and ability to provide a lot of ethanol and we're trying to make the public more aware that there are options out there ý I think it's the natural thing for the state to lead by example."
State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, and state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, were cosponsors of the bill, which won unanimous approval in the General Assembly.