MTBE free service stations on the web |

MTBE free service stations on the web

by Andy Bourelle

Want to find out who’s got MTBE-free gas?

On the World Wide Web, the California Energy Commission posts up-to-date lists of the service stations on the California side of the Lake Tahoe Basin that are MTBE-free.

“This is to give people information about what sites are supposed to be dispensing MTBE-free gas,” said Gordon Schremp of the Energy Commission. “Part of the intent of the governor’s executive order was to have suppliers comply as quickly as possible. This is to let people know who’s doing it.”

The South Tahoe Public Utility District, which frequently gets calls from people asking where they can get MTBE-free gas, supports the Web site posting.

“Economic pressure would be the best pressure to apply,” said Dennis Cocking, STPUD public information officer. “I think if the locals get on an MTBE-free kick, the ones still using MTBE would change quickly.

“You can vote with your wallet.”

MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – is a gasoline additive used widely in California. It is considered a possible human carcinogen and has contaminated as many as 14,000 groundwater sites in the state. More than a third of STPUD’s wells have been closed because of MTBE-contaminated groundwater.

Gov. Gray Davis in March ordered that companies stop adding MTBE to gasoline by Dec. 31, 2002. A bill signed into law last month eliminated that date, stating only that it happen as quickly as possible. However, in March he also ordered the Energy Commission to work with oil companies to get the additive out of Tahoe’s gas sooner than the rest of the state.

Tahoe officials were initially skeptical about the decision but quickly reversed their views when Tosco Corporation was able to deliver MTBE-free gasoline to the region in April. Many other companies and independent stations followed suit, and now numerous Tahoe service stations are MTBE-free.

The California Energy Commission’s Web site showing which service stations are MTBE-free can be found at