County ban on MTBE imminent |

County ban on MTBE imminent

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week announced it wanted to ban MTBE – effective in about three years.

Dave Solaro thinks that’s mildly amusing.

“The federal government is following our lead, but the end result will be three years behind ours,” said Solaro, El Dorado County supervisor. “I just think it’s really interesting we’re three years ahead of the federal government. We’re not waiting for them.”

Solaro has been spearheading an effort to get an ordinance passed that would ban MTBE from sale in the county portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Tuesday is the final reading on the ordinance, and it comes almost exactly one year after the governor of California asked oil companies to voluntarily supply MTBE-free fuel to the Tahoe region.

Most of them have done that. However, about four stations continue to sell MTBE-laden fuel.

“The governor and the California Air Resources Board asked for voluntary compliance. It’s been almost a year,” Solaro said. “Everyone certainly has had the opportunity to voluntarily comply, and there are supplies available. No one has a reason not to comply.”

The ordinance, which will go into effect April 28 if its passed, has the endorsement of the city of South Lake Tahoe and South Tahoe Public Utility District, the area’s primary water supplier. STPUD has lost the use of more than a third of its 30-plus wells because of MTBE.

“I support it,” said Jim Jones, STPUD board member. “Anything we can do to eliminate MTBE from the gas is a step toward eliminating MTBE from the water.”

The city, county and utility district last year formed a three-pronged group called the Lake Tahoe Region Water Preservation Authority whose purpose was to investigate how to get MTBE out of the South Shore area. That group took a wait-and-see approach after stations started voluntarily complying.

Those who violate the ordinance could potentially face jail time, $1,000-a-day fines or immediate closure of their stations.

Solaro said he believes this will be the first ordinance passed on a local level to ban MTBE.

“I have heard absolutely no opposition to this whatsoever” he said. “I anticipate its passing unanimously.”


What: El Dorado County meeting

When: Tuesday, 9 a.m.

Where: Board of Supervisors Meeting Room, 330 Fair Lane, Building A, Placerville

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