EPA gets its fill of fuel additive testimony | TahoeDailyTribune.com

EPA gets its fill of fuel additive testimony

The California Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday stopped taking testimony concerning MTBE.

Within a few days, the agency will forward a package to Gov. Gray Davis, according to California EPA Director of Communications Jim Spagnole. After that, Davis has 10 days to make a decision concerning MTBE’s future.

Last year California Sen. Dick Mountjoy, R-Arcadia, introduced legislation calling for the ban of MTBE in the state. The legislation – Senate Bill 521 – was amended and later passed. The revision, while far from the ban Mountjoy originally asked for, called for an in-depth scientific study of the additive, a series of public hearings and a prompt decision by the governor.

The University of California, Davis completed the study in November 1998. The public hearings concluded in February.

After the second hearing concluded, SB 521 gave the governor 10 days to make a decision regarding MTBE’s future in the state. However, California EPA extended that deadline, giving time for more written testimony to be submitted.

California EPA received more than 1,100 documents, and as soon as officials have analyzed the information, a recommendation will be made to the governor.

A lot of people would like him to hurry up.

“The time for studying and pondering the effects of MTBE is over,” said California Assemblyman Thomas “Rico” Oller. “While this may be a tough decision for Gov. Davis, his continued stalling on MTBE is endangering public health.”

Oller, R-San Andreas, is one of several state legislators who have introduced bills this year calling for a ban of the additive.

However, it isn’t only the state government that is paying attention to the issue.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Wednesday urged Davis to ban MTBE, and she introduced legislation that would allow any state to halt its use if it could meet federal air pollution standards without the use of an oxygenate.

MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – is a fuel oxygenate used extensively in California. It is believed to have contaminated more than 10,000 sites in the state and is considered as a possible cancer-causing agent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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