In California's latest move to free itself from EPA's requirement for adding either MTBE or ethanol to reformulated gasoline, Gov. Gray Davis has sued to force the agency to grant such a Clean Air Act waiver. Davis, who has ordered MTBE to be phased out by the end of 2002 to prevent further contamination of water supplies, said EPA "failed to follow sound science" when it rejected the state's waiver request earlier this year, claiming that California's fuel-blending requirements produce cleaner-burning fuel without oxygenates. The suit was filed by the state Air Resources Board in San Francisco's Ninth Circuit Court.
In the northeast, meanwhile, the governors of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont have resolved to press Congress to "lift the oxygen mandate for RFG" and EPA, in the meantime, to grant state-requested waivers of the mandate. They also resolved to "pursue a coordinated regional phase down of MTBE" and develop a model waiver request.
The New England Governors' Conference also endorsed a new report that assesses the impact of having northeastern states switch from MTBE to ethanol as the predominant fuel oxygenate.
Prepared by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the "Health, Environmental, and Economic Impacts of Adding Ethanol to Gasoline in the Northeast States" report presumes the elimination of MTBE will establish a "de facto mandate for ethanol," which it predicts will increase regional gas expenditures by $1 billion/year based on gas prices rising by 3-11 cents/gallon.