MTBE amendment out of committee | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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MTBE amendment out of committee

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee approved an amendment to the Clean Air Act, calling for the ban of MTBE from the nation’s gasoline.

Senate Bill 2962, raised Thursday by committee member U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would make the use of the fuel additive illegal after 2004.

“This bill will allow us to improve the safety and quality of our drinking water without sacrificing clean air,” Boxer said.



MTBE was first added to gasoline in the 1970s as a way to stretch supplies and reduce emissions. It started leaking into water supplies in the 1980s.

Lake Tahoe’s groundwater supplies have been hit hard by MTBE. Twelve of the 34 drinking wells operated by the South Tahoe Public Utility District, supplier of water to the California side of the lake’s south shore, were closed in 1998 after it was discovered that MTBE had seeped into the groundwater from gasoline storage tanks.




El Dorado County officials, recognizing the threat to its water supplies, banned the sale of MTBE in May within the utility district’s jurisdiction.

The amendment to the Clean Air Act would make the ban nationwide and make ethanol the choice fuel additive for cleaner fuel emissions.

Sen., Harry Reid, D-Nev., joined Boxer in approving the amendment.

“MTBE is a dangerous substance that can render water supplies unusable,” Reid said. “This is an unacceptable risk, especially in dry states like Nevada where water supplies are limited.”

The amendment is expected to go to the Senate next month.


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