The MTBE bomb

Urgent message from U.S. refiners to state and federal governments: If you drop bombs in the area of fuel chemistry, pick good targets. California Gov. Gray Davis dropped a bomb Mar. 25 when he ordered phased removal of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) from gasoline. Refiners use the substance chiefly to meet oxygen mandates for the reformulated fuel required in areas not meeting federal standards for ozone pollution. California has its own reformulation requirements, the nation's toughest. Water concern Davis acted out of concern for water quality. MTBE has entered aquifers in California and shown up in drinking water. Most occurrences have been at concentrations b...

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