MTBE labeling starts today |

MTBE labeling starts today

Andy Bourelle

As many as five gas stations in South Lake Tahoe and Meyers are supposed to label their pumps today to show customers that MTBE-laden fuel is sold there.

Officials from South Shore’s primary water purveyor, which has lost more than one-third of its wells because of contamination from the controversial fuel additive, hopes state requirement increases consumers’ awareness about where they can get MTBE-free fuel.

“Anything (the California Air Resources Board) or anyone else can do to apply pressure to any of the remaining gas stations, we support it,” said Dennis Cocking, STPUD information officer.

At the direction of California Gov. Gray Davis, the state air board passed an ordinance earlier this year requiring gas stations selling MTBE-laden fuel to label that on their pumps.

“So many, if not all, of the Lake Tahoe stations are not selling MTBE gas, you will probably not have as many labels as the rest of the state,” said Allan Hirsch, spokesman for CARB.

Hirsch said the state agency expects the regulation to be followed, and periodic inspections will check to make sure stations are complying.

MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – is a gasoline additive used widely in California. However, it has contaminated as many as 14,000 groundwater aquifers in the state, and Governor Davis has ordered it phased out of use. Another part of his order, made earlier this March, was that the state work with oil companies to provide MTBE-free fuel to the Tahoe area sooner.

The last time CARB tested the Tahoe area, which was September, six stations in the city and in Meyers still were providing MTBE-laden fuel. One has reportedly started selling clean fuel.


Stations still serving MTBE-laden fuel as of a September test include:


Meyers Beacon

Tahoe Tom’s

Ski Run Gas and Wash

Swiss Mart

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