Sweeney Measure Would Help Limit The Use Of Harmful Gasoline Additive ‘MTBE’

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney that would regulate the amount of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) used in gasoline was discussed today by the Senate Environment Committee.

“Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether has been classified as a carcinogen by the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland, who Vice-Chairs the Senate Environment panel. “The State is working to develop other sources of alternate fuel additives, including Ethanol, to help protect the health and well-being of New Jerseyans.”

Senator Sweeney’s measure, S-2018, would prohibit the manufacturing, processing, import or sale of gasoline containing more than 0.5% of MTBE as of January 1, 2008. Persons or companies found to be in violation would be subject to penalties under the Water Pollution Control Act, which includes civil administrative penalties of up to $50,000 per day.

MTBE is an additive used in gasoline to help fulfill the State’s oxygenated fuel requirements, as mandated under the federal “Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.” MTBE can be hazardous if the additive leaks into water supplies, and it is resistant to biodegradation which makes clean-up difficult and expensive. In a 2005 report by the Environmental Working Group of Washington, DC, the group found that 430 of New Jersey’s water systems are affected by MTBE.

“MTBE has been banned in both New York and Connecticut, and New Jersey needs to work toward developing a safe alternative that will help reduce gasoline emissions while helping to protect the State’s water supply,” said Senator Sweeney.

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