Since 1992 Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) has been routinely added to gasoline in response to the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990, in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. MTBE production has become a multi-billion dollar industry, as it now makes up 85% of the reformulated gasoline market. Although the health risks posed by the seemingly omnipresent chemical are still being debated, MTBE is highly soluble in water and when introduced to groundwater, it is devilishly difficult to remove. This article explores the potential federal and New York State laws that could provide a legal remedy for MTBE contamination of a private water well. Do citizens with private water wells have recourse when MTBE fouls the water under their land? Are there laws that protect groundwater as a natural resource from such pervasive chemicals as MTBE? Ultimately, this article concludes that federal and New York State laws do not provide adequate opportunities for a citizen to be compensated for MTBE contamination of groundwater. This legal gap represents the failure of state and federal law to protect groundwater as a natural resource.
Recommended CitationTodd A. Frampton, Private Well Owners Pay Price as MTBE Contamination Exposes the Lack of Groundwater Protection in Federal and New York Law , 18 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 135 (2000)
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