Eco-Groups Say "Ban MTBE".On May 9, Earth Island's Bluewater Network and 90 other environmental groups sent a joint letter to Congress demanding a complete ban on the use of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl butyl /bu·tyl/ (bu´t'l) a hydrocarbon radical, C4H9.
A hydrocarbon radical, C4H9.
a hydrocarbon radical, C4H9. ether (MTBE MTBE Methyl-tert-butyl-ether Surgery An aliphatic ether that rapidly dissolves cholesterol stones in vivo, introduced under local anesthesia via a percutaneous transhepatic cholecystectomy catheter, as a non-invasive method for treating gallstones; after injection, ) and all other ether-based oxygenates. "A phase-out of MTBE and other ether-based oxygenates must be complete and total to be effective," the letter states.
In April, the American Chemical Society The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a learned society (professional association) based in the United States that supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry. Founded in 1876 at New York University, the ACS currently has over 160,000 members at all degree-levels and in revealed that one-third of the nation's community drinking water wells may already be contaminated by MTBE. The MTBE from a single overturned automobile can contaminate 75 million gallons of water. Once MTBE gets into water supplies, even at low levels, it is extremely difficult and expensive to remove.
Reversing MTBE contamination could cost billions and take decades. The environmentalists' letter calls on Congress to require polluters, not taxpayers, to pay for the clean up: "This cleanup should be entirely funded by the oil industry, which chose MTBE over safer alternatives, rather than by taxpayers."
MTBE will be phased-out in California by December 31, 2002, but California's request to the EPA EPA eicosapentaenoic acid.
n.pr See acid, eicosapentaenoic.
n. to opt out of the Clean Air Act's oxygenate oxygenate /ox·y·gen·ate/ (-je-nat) to saturate with oxygen.
ox·y·gen·ate or ox·y·gen·ize
To treat, combine, or infuse with oxygen. program has set off nationwide concern over weaking the Clean Air Act. There now are more than a dozen bills making their way through Congress that would give states the option of dropping the Clean Air Act's oxygen requirement, de-spite the fact that this federal requirement does not specify the use of MTBE.
Evidence suggests that the Clean Air Act's oxygen requirement has substantially reduced vehicle air pollution. States that abandon this requirement will suffer worsening air quality in the very same areas where MTBE has devastated dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. drinking water supplies.
"We can't stand by and allow the oil industry to use the MTBE problem as an excuse to gut important air quality protections," Bluewater declared.
Losing the oxygen requirement without substituting renewable fuels is expected to result in increased use of alkylates in gasoline. There are no studies on the impacts of increased alkylate alkylate
to treat with an alkylating agent. use on public health. "A doubling (or more) of alkylates in gasoline -- about which we know almost nothing -- is eerily similar to the MTBE mistake made years ago," said Bluewater Executive Director Russell Long.
The environmentalists' letter asks Congress to ban all ether-based fuel oxygenates -- including ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE ETBE Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether
ETBE Extraterrestrial Biological Entities (Invasion TV series) ), tertiary amylmethyl ether (TAME) and diisopropyl ether (DIPE DIPE Diisopropyl Ether ). These chemicals, which have physical characteristics very similar to MTBE, are known to be toxic and may cause cancer.
Ethanol is a renewable fuel oxygenate that provides air quality benefits like MTBE while posing very little threat to water quality. Ethanol can be produced from rice straw, wood pulp, corn stover and other agricultural by-products. Bluewater spokesperson Brooke Coleman claims that the California Air Resources Board California Air Resources Board (CARB) is the "clean air agency" of the state of California in the United States. Established originally in 1967, it is a part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, an organization which reports directly to the California "chose not to include data showing the air quality and global warming benefits of oxygenates like biomass and ethanol."
"Using locally-produced biomass ethanol is a win all around -- for the environment and for the economy," Bluewater's Long concludes. "It is a self-sustaining national energy source that supports local farm economies and communities. Americans can have both clean air and clean water."
What You Can Do Congress is considering several bills that would merely reduce the use of MTBE instead of banning it. Please write your representative and senators asking them to totally ban MTBE. Please send copies of your letters to the Clean Fuels Campaign, c/o the Bluewater Network.