PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A bill allowing the continued sale of 85-octane gasoline in western South Dakota sped through a legislative committee Wednesday after a compromise was reached on how the fuel would be described in labels placed on pumps.
A state agency rule that has temporarily allowed the sale of 85-octane in nine western South Dakota counties requires that a warning label placed on pumps call it "Sub-Regular Octane."
The House Commerce Committee unanimously approved a version of the bill that would permanently allow the sale of the low-octane fuel in those nine counties, with a warning label that reads: "May not be suitable for all engines. Refer to owner's manual before fueling." The 85-octane fuel would simply be called regular unleaded.
Fuel sold elsewhere in South Dakota would have to be at least 87-octane.
Rep. Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg, said he had expected a contentious hearing, but state officials and fuel industry representatives reached a compromise Tuesday night that still accomplishes Gov. Dennis Daugaard's goals of avoiding fuel shortages in western South Dakota while also making sure people know what they are buying when they pump 85-octane fuel.
Octane is a measure of fuel performance, with a higher level indicating better performance. Most car manufacturers recommend that gasoline used in vehicles have a minimum octane rating of 87. State and industry officials said 85-octane gasoline is generally intended for use in high-altitude regions such as the Rocky Mountains.
During an investigation into allegations that some stations were selling 85-octane fuel mislabeled as higher octane gasoline, South Dakota's Public Safety Department last year discovered that state law technically prohibits the sale of 85-octane gasoline.