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Posted on  

May 25, 2001

Senators Propose Bill to Lift Oxygenate Rules for Gasoline

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and James Inhofe introduced legislation to let state governors waive federal environmental regulations requiring oxygenates such as ethanol or MTBE in gasoline.

MTBE contaminates groundwater and is a known animal carcinogen and possible human carcinogen, Feinstein said in a statement.

Under Environmental Protection Agency regulations, 2 percent of reformulated gasoline must contain oxygenates designed to reduce summertime air pollution in urban areas that violate ozone standards under the Clean Air Act.

``For nearly three years, I have urged both Democratic and Republican administrations to grant California a waiver from having to use MTBE, but we've seen little action,'' Feinstein, a Democrat, said in a statement. ``In the meantime, the water quality in California and many other states has suffered.'' Inhofe is a Republican.

MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, may be banned because of concerns about groundwater contamination from the additive when stored in leaky tanks. The EPA last year called on Congress to amend the Clean Air Act to ban or significantly reduce the use of MTBE. It urged the use of ethanol, an additive derived from corn, as a substitute.

The California Energy Commission estimates that eliminating the oxygenate requirement in gasoline in that state would reduce the average cost of California's reformulated gasoline by only 0.3 cent per gallon in six years.

Feinstein said the legislation was similar to a version introduced in the last session of Congress, but that measure was not approved.


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