MTBE image courtesy Qatar Fuel Additives Company
There was a serious disconnect. State air officials approved the use of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether or MTBE full-time in the mid-nineties in California, to add oxygen to gasoline to help it burn cleaner. But, they didn't coordinate with state water officials to consider the potential damage to our water supplies. Once the MTBE, a suspected carcinogen, started turning up in wells with its turpentine taste and smell, the state finally banned it at the end of 2003.