South Dakota Debates Sale Of 85-Octane Gasoline

South Dakota legislation continues to review rules on allowing the sale of 85-octane gasoline in the western half of the state.

The proposed rule allowing the sale of 85-octane gasoline in western South Dakota is still in discussion as of Tuesday when a state legislative committee could not gain enough votes to approve or block it.

The state’s Legislature’s Rules Review Committee reached an impasse after a series of tie votes on the issue. The panel put off further debate on the rule until its next meeting on Sept. 18.

The South Dakota Public Safety Department discovered the state’s laws prohibit the sale of 85-octane gasoline, according to a report at Businessweek.com. The state found some stations allegedly selling 85-octane fuel mislabeled as higher octane gas.

The Public Safety Department passed emergency rules to make 85-octane gasoline legal in South Dakota only until Oct. 7 to avoid possible fuel shortage during the summer tourism season in the western half of the state where low-octane fuel has been used for decades. The temporary rule requires any pump dispensing 85-octane gasoline to carry a warning label.

Dawna Leitzke, executive director of the South Dakota Petroleum and Propane Marketers Association, said gas stations oppose the proposed warning label on pumps dispensing 85-octane gasoline. She said 85-octane gasoline has been unfairly criticized as dirty fuel, but it has been sold for decades in western South Dakota and high-altitude western states.

“A warning label to me says the loss of sales,” Leitzke told Businessweek.com. “It says panic to consumers. It gives 85-octane a derogatory name. If there was a problem with vehicles, you would have seen it.”

The proposed rule would require gas stations to keep records of the specifications of fuel they purchase. The Public Safety Department is reportedly purchasing mobile testing equipment that check the octane being sold by gas stations.

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