06 May 2005 22:22 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat-?xml:namespace>
"This may be the single worst special-interest giveaway to polluters that I have ever seen in more than 20 years in
A comprehensive energy bill passed by the House pf Representatives includes a so-called "safe harbour" provision that would shield MTBE makers from defective product lawsuits.
MTBE was approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an octane enhancer to make gasoline burn cleaner and release less pollution. However, the chemical has contaminated groundwater throughout the country after leaking from underground storage tanks.
Schumer said he would filibuster energy legislation when it reaches the Senate floor if it shields MTBE makers from lawsuits.
Schumer said the safe harbour provision in the House energy bill would make taxpayers all over the country pay the entire cost to clean up MTBE. Under the bill, he said, MTBE could not be considered a defective product in a court of law, even if the chemical is a possible carcinogen.
Use of MTBE became widespread after Congress amended the Clean Air Act in 1990 to require that gasoline sold in urban areas with poor air quality be reformulated to contain at least 2% oxygen.
Industry groups say MTBE makers should not be sued for making a defective product because Congress knew it was the only cost-effective option available for meeting the oxygenate mandate.
"Any industry that acts as mandated by the government to meet a societal need - in this case, cleaner air and improved health - should not later be victimized for doing what the government required it to do," American Petroleum Institute president Red Cavaney recently told lawmakers.
The General Accountability Office (GAO), the research arm of Congress, said MTBE has been detected in groundwater and drinking water in every state in the
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