Governor’s decision on MTBE due in March |

Governor’s decision on MTBE due in March

California Gov. Gray Davis will be making a decision on the future of MTBE use in the state by early March.

One of the information sources he will be using to make that decision is a report released this week from the State Water Resources Control Board’s Panel on the Leak History of New and Upgraded Underground Storage Tank Systems.

South Lake Tahoe resident Jim Jones, who is chair of the South Tahoe Public Utility Board of Directors, served as one of panel members representing water agencies.

According to Jones, upgrading underground storage tank systems is not the solution to keeping MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – from damaging groundwater sources.

“The report finds that some of the apparent causes of MTBE leaks from fuel systems are due to faulty system installation, poor maintenance, poor facility operation practices and upgrades that do not fully comply with regulatory requirements,” Jones said. “In other words, this panel has determined that even new fuel systems and upgraded systems will not guarantee that MTBE stays out of groundwater.”

The panel was formed in December 1997 by former California Gov. Pete Wilson.

Davis will be making his decision as a result of 1997 California legislation, which required the University of California to research the health and environmental effects of MTBE. Public hearings are schedule for February, and Davis is expected to consider the University of California report, public testimony and the panel’s findings to make his decision.

“This report has been, or shortly will be, delivered to Gov. Gray Davis for his consideration as he decides what his action will be on MTBE,” Jones said. It is evident that the recommendations in this report will take years, if not decades, to implement. This report therefore supports the conclusion, I believe, that the only way to adequately protect groundwater from MTBE contamination is to remove MTBE from gasoline now.”

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