1990, the federal Clean Air Act was passed to improve air quality in the United States.President Bush’s proposed amendments to the Clean Air Act initially would have led to the introduction of alternative, non-petroleum fuels.The petroleum and oxygenate industries responded by offering a reformulated gasoline program as a substitute for most of the alternate fuel proposals.As a result, the amendments to the federal Clean Air Act adopted in 1990 required steps to achieve lower vehicle emissions, including programs to oxygenate and reformulate gasoline. Oxygenated gasoline is designed to increase the combustion efficiency of gasoline, thereby reducing carbon monoxide emissions.Since January 1995, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments require areas that have the most severe ozone pollution to use reformulated gasoline containing fuel oxygenates to improve air quality.
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether is one of the most commonly used fuel oxygenates because it is produced in very large amounts from isobutylene, a waste product in the refining process.MTBE can be easily produced at the refinery, at a low cost, and can be transferred through existing pipelines once it has been blended with gasoline.In contrast to other gasoline additives used in the past, MTBE is a member of a class of chemical compounds, ethers, whose unique properties are enhanced solubility in water and chemical attraction to water molecules.
These properties, along with widespread use of MTBE, have resulted in frequent detection of MTBE in samples of shallow groundwater from urban areas throughout the United States.MTBE moves quickly to shallow groundwater because it is not attached to soil particles, and is chemically attracted to water molecules.MTBE the potential to impact regional groundwater sources and may present a cumulative contamination hazard due to its mobility and apparent recalcitrance. The United States Geological Survey, in a paper pres…

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