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Newsgroups: sci.environment,,ca.environment,ca.politics,,
From: (Bruce Hamilton)
Subject: Re: MTBE: Boxer: use EPA emergency authority to phase out
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 07:33:59 +12

In article <67248r$ikf$> ( writes:

>It is obvious to me at this point that the environmental and
>regulatory groups had better get a lot more input from the
>industries that they are trying to regulate.

The US Auto/Oil research programme was one of the
largest fuel evaluation research programmes ever
undertaken - involving both the vehicle manufacturers and
the oil industry.  The results from that programme were
widely promugated throughout government and industry.
That programme evaluated several of the oxygenates
that were included in the regulations.

The oil industry *chose* to go with MTBE because they
could also control production, whereas if they had
chosen ethanol they would be new players in a field
dominated by ADM, and may have been held hostage
by the whims of that market. The regulations mandated
oxygenates, the oil industry chose MTBE. The concerns
about the non-biodegradeability of MTBE ( which really
is the crux of the problem ) were already being expressed
( by the proponents of ethanol :-) ).

The industries thought they could handle MTBE ( the auto industry
thought it could use MTBE to greatly reduce regulated emissions
- both tailpipe and evaporative, without the problems of toxic
aldehydes and elastomer compatibility that accompany alcohols ),
and the oil industry thought they could transport it and store it without
significant leaks. Whilst some MTBE is from non-point sources
( rained-out MTBE that was emitted from all sources ), much is from
point sources ( tailpipes, evaporative, storage tanks ).

It's not fair to solely condemn the regulators - although they
should share some of the blame - they regulated oxygenates,
the industry chose MTBE for sound economic reasons ( control
of supply ). They appear to have made the wrong choice...

           Bruce Hamilton

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