Another gas supplier will cut out the MTBE |

Another gas supplier will cut out the MTBE

Andy Bourelle

Lake Tahoe residents and visitors shouldn’t have much problem buying MTBE-free gasoline this summer.

Less than two weeks after Tosco Corporation announced it would soon supply MTBE-free fuel to Tahoe, Chevron Products Company has agreed to do so as well.

“You have asked for our help in early removal of MTBE from gasoline supplies to Lake Tahoe,” Patricia Woertz, president of Chevron, said in a letter to California Gov. Gray Davis. “After a thorough review of Chevron’s supply options, I am comfortable committing to you that we will supply MTBE-free gasoline to the Lake Tahoe region by July 1, if not sooner.”

The South Tahoe Public Utility District likes the sound of that.

“Great news. We’re hoping for the ‘sooner’ part rather than later,” said Dawn Forsythe, STPUD information officer. “Once again, it looks like the governor has come through for Tahoe.”

MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – is a fuel oxygenate comprising significant portions of California gasoline. It is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a possible human carcinogen. At very low levels, MTBE-contaminated water is undrinkable, because it smells and tastes like turpentine.

More than one-third of STPUD’s drinking water wells have been shut down because of MTBE contamination. Gov. Gray Davis issued a decision last week concerning MTBE’s future in the state, providing details of how to phase out the additive’s use in California.

In his decision, the governor came up with a plan to help South Shore’s problem, saying that the state was to work with the petroleum industry to supply MTBE-free California-compliant gasoline to Tahoe “at the earliest possible date.”

The next day, Tosco announced it would provide MTBE-free gas to the basin by April 15.

STPUD officials are not the only ones pleased with the news from Chevron.

“We’re ecstatic. July 1 is a long time away, but ‘if not sooner’ sounds good to me,” said Casey Moss of the Ski Run Boulevard and “Y” Chevron stations. “We’re very happy, as is everyone else in Tahoe who doesn’t want this stuff in the drinking water or pay to clean it up.”

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