Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (December 27, 2001) -- Maryland’s MTBE Task Force has released its final report on the gasoline additive and recommendations on how the state should deal with the additive into the future.

MTBE, methyl tertiary-butyl ether, has been the additive most commonly used by gasoline suppliers throughout most of the country to meet the reformulated gasoline requirements. The Clean Air Act of 1990 required that areas with the worst ground level ozone air pollution use reformulated gasoline to reduce air toxic emissions and pollutants that form ground level ozone. Reformulated gasoline is used in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore City Metropolitan areas. MTBE, a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid with a turpentine-like odor made as a byproduct of petroleum refinery operations, had been used as an octane enhancer to improve automobile performance since the 1970s.

Reports in 1999 indicated that MTBE may be contaminating ground and surface water and concerns about possible health effects have been raised.

The Maryland legislature passed a bill in 2000 creating a task force to investigate the environmental effects of MTBE. The task force issued a Preliminary Report in December 2000 on its study of several issues, including determining the environmental and health risks associated with ground and surface water contamination from MTBE and examining national and regional MTBE efforts.

The Final Report addresses a plan to minimize and counteract the environmental and health risks associated with MTBE contamination, and explores the alternatives to MTBE. The full Task Force Final Report is available online at:

The 16-member task force was charged with examining potential risks associated with the presence of the compound in ground and surface water; assessing national and regional efforts to address the issue; recommending a plan to counteract any environmental and health risks involved; and exploring alternatives to MTBE in reducing air toxic emissions and pollutants that form ground level ozone.

Governor Parris N. Glendening appointed nine of the task force members, which includes representatives of the fuel industry, environmental action groups, the underground storage industry, and an expert on environmental health risk assessment. The remainder of the task force is composed of two representatives from Maryland’s House and Senate and the Secretaries or designees of the Departments of Natural Resources, Health & Mental Hygiene and Environment.