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Recommendations and Actions

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

What the experts say about MTBE

What did the Blue Ribbon Panel conclude and recommend?

In response to the growing concerns regarding MTBE in water, EPA's Administrator Browner appointed an independent Blue Ribbon Panel of leading experts from the public health, environmental and scientific communities, fuels industry, water utilities, and local and state governments. They were charged to investigate the air quality benefits and water quality concerns associated with oxygenates in gasoline, and to provide independent advice and recommendations on ways to maintain air quality while protecting water quality. They concluded, among other things, that MTBE detections have primarily caused consumer odor and taste concerns, and that in rare instances MTBE has been found in drinking water supplies at levels well above EPA's drinking water advisory and some state standards.

The Panel recommended the following:

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Actions to Address MTBE Concerns

What additional steps is EPA taking to address concerns with MTBE?

EPA has taken the following actions to significantly reduce or eliminate MTBE, and to address prevention and remediation concerns. EPA is working closely with Congress, the states, and the regulated community to accomplish these efforts.


EPA is providing technical assistance to Congress to work toward a targeted legislative solution that addresses the Panel's recommendations. Specifically, EPA Administrator Browner and Agriculture Secretary Glickman released a legislative framework on March 20, 2000 to encourage immediate Congressional action to reduce or eliminate MTBE and promote consideration of renewable fuels like ethanol.


Also on March 20, 2000, EPA Administrator Browner announced the beginning of regulatory action under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to significantly reduce or eliminate use of MTBE in gasoline while preserving clean air benefits.

Drinking Water Protection Programs:

Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) and Other Management Strategies:


EPA is funding demonstration projects to determine the most effective approach to MTBE remediation. MTBE remediation research efforts are also currently underway by other organizations such as the American Petroleum Institute and U.C. Davis.


Numerous research projects are underway by government organizations, universities, and industry. Information about research projects regarding oxygenates (including MTBE) in water is discussed in Oxygenates in Water: Critical Information and Research Needs". Among the topics covered in this document are source characterization, transport, transformation, occurrence, exposure, aquatic toxicity, health effects, release prevention, and contaminant removal. Appendix 2 of the document lists several current or recent research projects in these topic areas.

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Additional Information

Blue Ribbon Panel:

You can access additional documents related to the Blue Ribbon Panel from the following EPA Web sites:

Clean Air Act Committee, Office of Air and Radiation
This Web site provides background information on the formation, purpose, and members of the Blue Ribbon Panel.

Office of Transportation and Air Quality
This Web site contains documents produced by or for the panel, including its Final Report.

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