MTBE / Reformulated Gas Info

(Compiled by Akkana).

3/29/1999 Update!

Governor Davis has announced that MBTE will be phased out of California Gasoline over a period of years; my understanding is that it is no longer required now, and will eventually be banned.

Unfortunately, I haven't managed to find a link to a news article with more information about this. Please send info if you know of one!

Brief background note: California switched a few years ago to a new, reformulated gas. A few other states (Wisconsin and Texas) had had the new gas for several years before California switched. The new gas is NOT the same as the old oxygenated (ethanol-added) gas which we've had to use in the winters for many years. It's billed as being cleaner-burning, but it's not clear whether that takes into account the reduced fuel economy (the official reports predict anything from a 1% to 3% drop, but most real people seem to be seeing anywhere from a 4% to 30% drop. I saw saw roughly a 22% drop in my '81 Fiat X1/9; on the other hand, my current '84 X1/9 seems to do somewhat better. They're both fuel injected.) The new gas is considerably more expensive, and that's before you take the reduced fuel economy into account.

Another aspect which disturbed me was the casual way in which all the official propaganda mentions that "some older or high mileage vehicles" might have problems involving fuel lines damaged from the new gas. You'd think that heightened liklihood of engine fires might be enough to get people to take notice -- but no one seemed to care. I've taken to carrying a fire extinguisher in my car, just in case.

Since there seems to be some sort of information blackout here in CA about the content of this new gas that's being forced upon us and what it might do to our cars and ourselves, I decided to start collecting information -- what is this stuff, and what might it be doing to our cars and our health?

If you have any articles or links which you think would be useful on this page, please send it to me. If it's copyrighted, make sure I have permission from the author to post it here -- I won't post copyrighted articles without permission.

Some useful links to more information about MBTE:

Some relatively recent reports:

11/19/98: The University of California urges California to eliminate MTBE in a report to then-Governor Pete Wilson.

The remaining links on this page are all, alas, several years old; there seems to be very little new information appearing on the web although occasional newspaper articles increasingly portray studies showing the harmful effects of MTBE.

Call 1-800-510-FUEL to join a class-action lawsuit filed sometime around 9/11 against Chevron and other oil companies for the damage caused by the reformulated gasoline. There's also a mention of this on KGO's anti-RFG web site.

The official CA propaganda page on reformulated gas.

Two sites that I recently found:

The Associated Press reportedly has a story coming up on RFG, which should be available online by searching their site once it finally gets printed. It's been delayed about three times now, for one reason or another.

The use of RFG in CA is related to (but not actually part of) the new stricter EPA Smog Check II program. I recently stumbled across an amusing page of Legal Loopholes for getting around some CA smog requirements.

For general background on the chemistry of gasoline and its additives, has a very extensive Automotive Gasoline FAQ. There's an older, less up-to-date gas FAQ on the F-Body Homepage.

Dr. Peter M. Joseph, Professor of Radiologic Physics in Radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, has written several very detailed (and very scary!) articles about health risks from the gas and its fumes:

You can also read some letters from people suffering symptoms which appear to be related to MTBE.

So if there are so many health risks involved with the reformulated gas, and there's no real evidence that it actually helps the air, why are we being forced to use it? James Bovard has some choice words on the politics behind the ethanol lobby in his article A Case Study in Corporate Welfare. Michael Fumento has written a "Town Hall" article detailing what he thinks the real (political) reasons are, in ADM'S ETHANOL GETS BY WITH HELP FROM ITS FRIENDS.

Ed Wallace on KLIF from Texas has a good deal to say about RFG. Visit the KLIF page for more details.

The Methanex Corp., a methanol producer, used to have some pro-MTBE pages on their site, but none of the links that used to work are active any more (hmm ...).

More stuff to come, as I collect it.

...Akkana || mail me