Sen. Smith to push MTBE phaseout

Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman, has proposed legislation to phase out methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in gasoline within 4 years. Smith plans to mark up the legislation at a Sept. 7 committee meeting.


WASHINGTON, DC�Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman, has proposed legislation to phase out methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in gasoline within 4 years. Smith plans to mark up the legislation at a Sept. 7 committee meeting.

The Environmental Protection Agency has urged Congress to phase out MTBE, a gasoline additive that has been found to contaminate water supplies resulting from underground tank leaks.

Unlike the Clinton administration's proposal, Smith's bill does not mandate a larger role for ethanol as a gasoline oxygenate.

The legislation would allocate $200 million from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank fund for MTBE cleanup activities. And it would allow states to waive the current federal requirement that reformulated gasoline contain 2%/wt oxygen.

Under the legislation, EPA would set toxicity standards for gasoline in order to preserve air quality gains from using MTBE. The bill would require a study of those standards within 5 years.

Smith offered a separate amendment to his bill requiring alternative fuels make up 0.6% of total US fuels by 2002, increasing to 1.5% in 2011.

He said, "Up to 6,000 private drinking water wells have been affected in my home state alone. It is critical for Congress to act this year to eliminate this threat to our communities."

Smith expressed hope legislation could be passed during September, but Congress is due to adjourn Oct. 6 and the bill will be opposed by farm state senators who want to mandate more ethanol use.

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