Fuel additive bills gain momentum in legislature | NevadaAppeal.com

Fuel additive bills gain momentum in legislature

by Andy Bourelle

Three bills dealing with a fuel additive blamed for polluting water gained momentum in the California Legislature this week.

Assembly Bill 1812, authored by Lake Tahoe’s assemblyman, Thomas Oller, passed unanimously through the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxics Committee on Tuesday.

The bill would require the state Department of Health Services and Water Quality Control Board to jointly review the potential long-term health effects of being exposed to MTBE, a suspected cancer-causing agent.

The measure would build on information contained in a 1998 University of California, Davis study about MTBE.

“Californians are very concerned about the lax attitude of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state Air Resources Board with regard to the health hazards of MTBE,” said Oller, R-San Andreas.

“And since the federal government is refusing to do its job, it is necessary for the state to develop a battle plan to protect the health of its citizens.”

On the Senate side, two bills from Sen. Dick Mountjoy gained approval in the Senate Transportation Committee. Senate Bill 1971 calls for the removal of MTBE from the state’s gas by the end of this year, two years earlier than a governor-ordered phaseout in place now.

Senate Bill 1972 would direct U.C. Davis to study oxygenates and alkylates that are being considered to replace MTBE.

“Californians must continue to lead the nation in the battle to protect our water and our people from the dangers of MTBE,” said Mountjoy, R-Arcadia.

MTBE, methyl tertiary butyl ether, has contaminated drinking water supplies nationwide. California Gov. Gray Davis has ordered it phased out of the state. At Tahoe, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has banned MTBE, effective the end of this month and punishable with fines or jail time.

However, local officials have long maintained that getting MTBE out of Tahoe wouldn’t solve all the area’s contamination problems. Cars or boats can be filled up elsewhere, used and even wrecked at Tahoe, spilling MTBE-laden fuel.