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Rule allowing sale of 85-octane gasoline approved

Associated Press Published: September 12, 2012

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A state legislative committee on Wednesday approved a compromise version of a rule allowing the sale of 85-octane gasoline in western South Dakota, but not beyond June.

The Rules Review Committee was deadlocked a month ago on whether to approve a state agency's proposed rule permanently allowing retailers in western South Dakota to sell the lower-grade blend. The version approved 4-2 Wednesday means the 2013 Legislature will have to decide whether to permit the sale of the gasoline past June 30.

The rule allows retailers in nine counties to sell it as long as pumps carry a warning label: "Sub-Regular Octane - Refer to owner's manual before fueling."

Octane is a measure of fuel performance, with a higher level indicating better performance. Officials have said 85-octane gasoline is generally intended for use in high-altitude regions such as the Rocky Mountain states.

During an investigation into allegations that some stations were selling 85-octane fuel mislabeled as higher octane gasoline, South Dakota's Public Safety Department earlier this year discovered that state law technically prohibits the sale of 85-octane gasoline. Most car manufacturers recommend that gasoline used in vehicles have a minimum octane rating of 87.

The Public Safety Department, with Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard's backing, passed an emergency rule making 85-octane gasoline legal anywhere in South Dakota until Oct. 7. The department did so to avoid a possible fuel shortage during the summer tourism season in the Black Hills and the rest of western South Dakota, where the low-octane fuel has been used for decades. The rule approved by the Rules Review Committee will replace the emergency rule.

The department's original version of the rule would have allowed the sale of 85-octane gasoline only west of the 102nd Meridian, essentially the western quarter of South Dakota. The rule approved Wednesday replaces the meridian reference to specify that the lower-octane blend can be used in Butte, Custer, Fall River, Harding, Lawrence, Meade, Pennington, Perkins and Shannon counties.

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