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1998 News Releases



Release Date: 11/30/98
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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol M. Browner today announced that a blue-ribbon panel of leading experts from the public health and scientific communities, automotive fuels industry, water utilities, and local and State government will be created to review the important issues posed by the use of MTBE and other oxygenates in gasoline. While MTBE and other oxygenates have provided the nation with important clean air benefits, EPA is creating this panel to gain a better understanding of the public health concerns raised by the discovery of MTBE in some water supplies.
The panel will be chaired by Dr. Daniel Greenbaum, President of the Health Effects Institute (HEI), Cambridge, Mass. Under the direction of Dr. Greenbaum, HEI recently published major reviews on “The Health Effects of Diesel Exhaust” and, “The Health Effects of Oxygenates Added to Gasoline.”

“While MTBE and other oxygenates in gasoline have improved air quality for millions of Americans, I am convening a blue-ribbon panel of experts to better understand public health concerns that have been raised by the discovery of MTBE in some water bodies,” said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. “Our goal is to protect public health and the environment by ensuring both cleaner air and cleaner water.

“Dr. Greenbaum is uniquely qualified to head this panel because of his extensive experience in the area of health effects and fuel additives. He will be working with members who represent a broad range of expertise regarding oxygenated gasolines.”

The blue-ribbon panel, under the auspices of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, will: 1) examine the role of oxygenates in meeting the nation’s goal of clean air, 2) evaluate each product’s efficiency in providing clean air benefits and the existence of alternatives, 3) assess the behavior of oxygenates in the environment, 4) review any known health effects, and 5) compare the cost of production and use, and each product’s availability-- both at present and in the future. The panel will also study the causes of groundwater and drinking water contamination from motor vehicle fuels, and explore prevention and cleanup technologies for water and soil.

Within six months, this panel will report to EPA its findings, including specific recommendations on how to ensure public health protection and continued improvement in both air and water quality.

The Clean Air Act of 1990 requires the use of emissions-reducing oxygenated fuels in areas failing to meet national health standards. The Act does not specify which oxygenates are to be used in making cleaner-burning gasoline, leaving that decision to the manufacturer. MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, and ethanol frequently are selected by refiners for producing cleaner-burning gasolines.
In a separate but related action, the EPA also is directing the fuels industry to conduct a new program required under the Clean Air Act to assess the potential health effects associated with all gasolines and gasoline additives -- conventional gasoline as well as gasoline that has been reformulated with oxygenates by manufacturers. The information provided will help the Agency better understand the health risks associated with exposure to automotive fuels.

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            Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAC)

                Panel on Oxygenate Use in Gasoline

Panel Chair

Mr. Daniel Greenbaum President      Health Effects Institute 141 Portland Street Suite 7300 Cambridge, MA 02139

                    Panel Members

Mr. Mark Beuhler Director of Water Quality Metropolitan Water District of  Southern California P.O. Box 54153 Los Angeles, CA 90071

Mr. Robert Campbell Chairman, President and  Chief Executive  Officer Sun Company, Inc. 1801 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19103-1699

Dr. Patricia Ellis Hydrologist Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental  Control Air and Waste Management Division 391 Lukens Drive New Castle, DE 19720

Dr. Linda Greer Senior Scientist Natural Resources Defense Council 1350 New York Ave., NW Washington, DC 20005

Mr. Jason Grumet Executive Director NESCAUM 129 Portland Street Boston, MA 02114

Dr. Anne Happel Environmental Scientist Lawrence Livermore National  Laboratory, L-542 7000 East Avenue Livermore, CA 94550

Mr. Michael Kenny Executive Officer California Air Resources Board P.O. Box 2815 Sacramento, CA 95812

Dr. Carol Henry Director, Health and  Environmental Sciences American Petroleum Institute 1220 L Street, NW Washington, DC 20005-4070

Mr. Robert Perciasepe Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation US Environmental Protection Agency 401 M Street, SW Washington, DC 20460 Dr. Robert Sawyer Professor, Graduate School Mechanical Engineering Department University of California at Berkeley 72 Hesse Hall Berkeley, CA 94720-1740

Ms. Debbie Starnes  Senior Vice President Intermediate Chemical Lyondell Chemical Company      1221 McKinney Street, Suite 1600 Houston, TX 77010 Mr. Todd Sneller Executive Director Nebraska Ethanol Board 301 Centennial Mall South Fourth Floor Lincoln, NE 69509

Mr. Ron White Director, National Programs American Lung Association 1726 M Street NW, Suite 902 Washington, DC 20036

Federal Representives (non-member consultants to Panel)

Mr. Roger Conway Director, Office of Energy Policy and  New Uses US Department of Agriculture 1800 M Street NW, Room 4129 N Washington, DC 20036

Ms. Cynthia Dougherty Director, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water US Environmental Protection Agency Washington, DC 20460

Dr. Bill Farland Director, National Center for  Environmental Assessment Office of Research and Development US Environmental Protection Agency Washington, DC 20460

Mr. Barry McNutt Senior Policy Analyst Department of Energy 1000 Independence Avenue, Room H021 Washington, DC 20585

Ms. Margo Oge Director, Office of Mobile Sources Office of Air and Radiation US Environmental Protection Agency 401 M Street SW Washington, DC 20460

Ms.  Anna Verbick Director Office of Underground Storage Tanks US Environmental Protection Agency 401 M Street, SW MC-5401G Washington, DC 20460

Dr. Mary White Epidemiologist Chief Health Investigations Branch Center for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Road Mail Stop E-31 Atlanta, GA 30333

Dr. John Zogorski Project Chief, National Water Quality Assessment Program US Geological Survey 1608 Mountain View Road Rapid City, SD 57702