Another Nail in the MTBE'S Coffin?

August 22, 2001

On Aug. 7, 2001, the New England Governors Conference weighed in on the debate over MTBE and ethanol, sending a resolution to Congress asking it to drop rules under the Clean Air Act that require either additive in automobile fuels. About 3/4 of all gas sold in the Northeast is reformulated (RFG) -- which means MTBE levels up to 11%.

Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) has come under increasing fire in recent years. While it has helped cities and regions around the country improve air quality, it has significantly degraded water quality. See these TipSheets:

In 1999, ME opted out of federal requirements to include oxygenates in its gasoline. In May, NH began the same process. CA is also seeking a way out of the program -- EPA recently denied that state's request for a waiver.

Eliminating MTBE without eliminating the oxygenate requirement means de facto requirement of ethanol in its place, according to a report by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use MMgmt on which the New England action was based.