Legislature moves to settle squabble over lower-octane fuel
PIERRE -- The dispute that blew up last year over lower-octane fuel being incorrectly labeled at some outlets seems to be resolved.
The months of battling, through the series of hearings before the Department of Public Safety and the Legislature's rules review committee, finally reached a successful conclusion in recent weeks with a compromise on legislation sponsored by Rep. Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg. No opponents testified against HB 1091 at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing Thursday.
Gasoline with an 85-octane or 86-octane rating can be sold in nine western counties. Those are Butte, Custer, Fall River, Harding, Lawrence, Meade, Pennington, Perkins and Shannon.
Gasoline in all other counties must be at least 87 octane.
Pumps with 85 or 86 octane in those nine counties will need a decal: "May not be suitable for all engines. Refer to owner's manual before fueling."
The petroleum marketers association succeeded in eliminating that word, which the Daugaard administration still wanted. Under the rule ordered last year by the Department of Public Safety, 86-octane and 85-octane must be labeled as "Sub-Regular Octane."
That rule remains in effect through June 30. The administration wanted to put "sub-regular" in state law this year, but that legislation, HB 1037 from the Department of Public Safety, was killed by a House committee.
During the rules battle last year, the department ran into a political buzz-saw among some legislators, including Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron.
Gibson voted against the compromise legislation last week when the House passed it 64-6.
On Thursday another of the rules committee members from last year, Sen. Angie Buhl, D-Sioux Falls, said she's now willing to support it because no opposition has surfaced again. Buhl said her biggest concern was that consumers should be able to know what they're buying.
The full Senate will get the bill for consideration as soon as Monday afternoon for possible final passage. Its lead sponsor in the Senate is Republican Corey Brown of Gettysburg.